August 24, 2020 Read More →

First floating offshore wind project off Wales moves step closer to development

Business Green:

Wales’ first floating wind project took a major step forward this week, after the Crown Estate awarded seabed rights to developers to build the 96MW demonstration project in the Celtic Sea.

If final planning consent is granted, the Erebus project would be installed approximately 44km from the shore and will allow developer Blue Gem Wind – a joint venture between French oil giant Total and developer Simply Blue Energy – to trial floating wind technology in water depths of 70 metres.

“Welsh waters are home to a thriving offshore wind industry and as this continues to evolve and mature, innovation will be vital to unlocking a sustainable pipeline of new capacity over the longer term,” head of energy development at the Crown Estate Will Apps said. “With an increasingly busy marine environment, we need to explore new technologies in more diverse and technically challenging areas which is why we are delighted to see the Erebus project take this important step.”

Floating wind technology does not rely on traditional fixed foundations and allows wind projects to be installed in deeper waters where wind yields are higher. While in its infancy today, the technology is anticipated to grow rapidly over the decades to come and play a steering role in helping the UK deliver 75GW of offshore wind by mid-century, a target set by government climate advisors the Committee on Climate Change. Research centre Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult estimates that the Celtic Sea alone could support up to 50GW of offshore capacity, while supporting thousands of jobs in Wales and southwest England.

The leasing deal is one of a number of offshore wind milestones recently marked in Wales by the Crown Estate. Last month, it granted seabed rights for a 106-square kilometre extension to the Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm off the coast of North Wales. The extension, if consented, will add 576MW of capacity to one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms. And last year, the Crown Estate included the Northern Wales and Irish Sea Bidding Area in the first UK offshore wind leasing round held in a decade. Projects picked in Offshore Leasing Round 4 could be operational by 2030, it said, with projects set to be identified later this year through a competitive tender process.

[Cecilia Keating]

More: Wales’ maiden floating offshore wind project secures seabed rights

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