Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea: a leasing round update

The Crown Estate are delivering a new leasing opportunity in the Celtic Sea for the first generation of commercial-scale floating offshore wind farms (FLOWs).

Already a global leader in offshore wind technology, the UK’s step into floating wind is hoped to create industrial opportunities, as well as unlocking new clean energy capacity. The Crown Estate have issued an update on the latest leasing round.

After identifying five broad Areas of Search, the Crown Estate engaged with market, marine and statutory stakeholders, using technical risk analysis to reduce these five areas to three. These areas have been further distilled into Refined Areas of Search – smaller areas of seabed within which projects may be located in the future. Over the coming months, Potential Development Areas will be identified within these areas.

In the update, the Crown Estate confirmed that the overall balance between opportunity in Welsh and English waters has been retained. They also gave an outline of how the bid process will shape up, with a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire expected in mid 2023, followed by two rounds of Invitations to Tender (ITT), the first of which is a pass/fail round and the second an uncapped financial bid.

As a company that is firmly rooted in this region, our key highlights from this update were:

  • A doubling down on the Crown Estate’s commitment to an iterative site selection process informed by stakeholder engagement and, to ensure that development within the Celtic Sea is phased in a way that enables the local supply chain to mature in parallel with project delivery.
  • The welcome addition of two new components to ITT1: firstly, the requirement for a supply chain investment plan focused on the Celtic Sea region, and secondly for a demonstration of social and environmental value creation within the bid. GoBe strongly supports these additional elements to the bid process and considers them a positive step in maximising the economic and environmental opportunity for the region.
  • The uncapped financial bid for 4 Project Development Areas in ITT2 will be extremely competitive and will surely see the creation of some very interesting consortia over the coming months.

We’re looking forward to continuing to provide strategic consenting support through this bid process, and also to supporting the region as a whole through our contribution to the Celtic Sea Cluster and Celtic Sea FLOW Workforce Group.

And during the glorious summer of 2022, our fellow APEM Group company, APEM Ltd started work with Celtic Sea Power, delivering the first of four seasonal ultra-high resolution surveys digital aerial surveys to collect robust data for birds and marine mammals. Imagery captured by APEM will feed into a unique regional bird and marine mammal density and distribution model created in collaboration with Natural England through the POSEIDON project.

We’re delighted to be contributing in different ways to the UK’s first floating offshore wind farm project, and to many more opportunities in the future!

Image caption: Godrevy, Cornwall. Image ©APEM Ltd – digital aerial surveys for Celtic Sea Power