Talks to start on increasing UK's offshore wind capacity

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 7 Nov 2017

The Crown Estate is to consider opening up more of the seabed for offshore wind projects.

It will be working with the burgeoning sector and stakeholders to consider making new leasing rights available to developers. 

The announcement, in Offshore Wind Week 2017, follows the Government’s backing for offshore wind in the Clean Growth Strategy and recognises the industry’s ongoing development of an ambitious sector deal. 

It also comes after the recent ‘Contracts for Difference’ auction which demonstrated significant cost reduction, a key factor flagged up behind the decision. Hornsea Project Two, out of the Humber, blazed the trail in that respect, hitting £57.50.

​Huub den Rooijen, director of energy, minerals and infrastructure at The Crown Estate – who last year described Grimsby as the poster child for the sector's industrialisation - said: “Offshore wind is a fantastic UK success story. We have some of the best resources in the world and the sector is on course to meet 10 per cent of the UK’s electricity demand by 2020.

“With costs continuing to come down at a pace and Government looking at further opportunities for additional offshore wind deployment in the 2020s, it is the right time to consider what additional seabed rights may be needed to help secure the UK’s clean energy future.”

All eyes will be on where these areas will be, but an increased focus on the North Sea as projects get larger, the Humber looks likely to be well set. It has been said recently it could meet all of Europe’s needs. Orsted - what was until this week Dong Energy - has established its East Coast Hub in Grimsby, and with Able Marine Energy Park at North Killingholme and further land at Hull and Paull, capacity to cope is there. 

Infrastructure to handle the changing nature of the farms is ramping up too. Initial developments were served daily by small crew transfer vessels, but now the industry is moving to an oil and gas model with technicians staying out in the field or being flown out, with Humberside Airport welcoming recent contracts and a step-change in vessel size.

It would represent a fourth round of projects, with the Humber active in all three previous allocations, from Lynn and Inner Dowsing in 2008 to the emerging Hornsea zone that will enter offshore construction next year. 

Energy Minister Richard Harrington said: “The offshore wind sector in the UK has shown great ambition and is bringing forward clean energy projects that could power more than three million homes, at half the cost achieved in previous auctions.

“Our Clean Growth Strategy sets out that the UK could support another 10GW of offshore wind in the 2020s, with the opportunity for more if it’s cost effective. This announcement is an important step towards these future projects.”

The Crown Estate will work with sector stakeholders throughout next year to “shape potential new offshore leasing activity”. This will consider the scale, form and location of new rights to enable sustainable deployment to 2030 and beyond.

Further details are expected early next year. 

MORE: Regional report shows how the Humber is 'truly at the heart of the offshore wind industry'

ROUNDING THEM UP: Lynn and Inner Dowsing were Round One, with Lincs, Humber Gateway, Westermost Rough, Race Bank and Triton Knoll all Round Two. The Hornsea zone is Round Three.  Could Round Four and more be served from the Humber too? 

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