The Crown Estate’s upcoming leasing round in the Celtic Sea offers a tremendous opportunity to help the UK reach its net-zero goals, develop the nascent global floating offshore wind industry, and create thousands of new green jobs.
As global leaders in offshore wind, Ørsted firmly believes that leasing programmes should incorporate multiple factors and mechanisms to unlock the opportunities for the UK supply chain to take a global lead in this emerging technology.
Despite this round being focused solely on price, we believe there will nevertheless be opportunities for the winning developers to work – together where possible – to deliver the socio-economic benefits that our sector is already deliveringother parts of the country.
For the global green energy transition to be successful – we need to do it right. That means incentivising investments that will create lasting and sustainable local socio-economic impacts, encourage floating innovation, and protect the environment.
Confidence in delivery for the long term
The Crown Estate’s new leasing round in the Celtic Sea breaks new ground toward reaching the government’s ambition to deliver 5GW of floating wind by 2030. By unlocking up to 4GW of renewable energy capacity, the leasing round offers the chance to provide clean energy to almost 4 million UK homes.
The tender offers an opportunity to build out the new global floating offshore wind industry in the UK – placing Wales and Southwest England at the centre of a burgeoning global industry.
With Ørsted’s 30 years of experience developing, constructing, owning, and operating offshore wind farms around the world, we are confident that we can deliver floating offshore wind at the scale and pace the market demands.
We continually set ourselves world leading targets to deliver the best value and to have a lasting impact in the regions we operate.
developed the Hornsea projects, we directly invested £45 million into the local community, education, and skills development.
But even as we tackle climate change with these new larger projects – we know that we must do it right, in balance with nature.
We recently entered a five-year global partnership with WWF, the world leader in nature conservation, so we can work together to drive a fundamental change in the approach to integrating action on climate and biodiversity.
Ambitious projects need help, not hurdles
That all leads to why we believe it’s vital that future Celtic Sea leasing rounds give weight to other factors such as local economic development, innovation, and environmental enhancement.
Floating offshore wind is still a technology in its early stage and needs significant investment in ports infrastructure and manufacturing facilities to scale-up the industry. It needs all the help it can get to reach commercial viability and create the greatest possible socio-economic value. And we’ve seen this being achieved in other markets, where leasing fees have been capped and leasing incorporates other factors.
The UK has an advantage as the first country to open up seabed for large floating projects. If we get the framework right, we can ensure that the UK truly benefits from being the frontrunner in floating wind.
Building it right
At Ørsted, we believe the leasing framework needs to incentivise developers to invest in the multitude of factors that are necessary to truly foster the growth of a robust floating offshore wind industry.
From our decades of experience building offshore wind into the mature, cost-effective, industrial scale technology it is today, we know that working with local government and community stakeholders is critical to success. But that takes time and long-term commitments – determining proposals based on a wider set of criteria will ensure these projects deliver the greatest value to the region and UK.
Developers and the supply chain need to be encouraged to invest in new innovative, sustainable technology that will help the industry lower costs, so that we can unlock more clean energy in the UK and all over the world. Investment is also needed in skills and training to prepare the local supply chain and enable it to be an active player in the global build-out of floating wind.
And as stewards of the green energy transition, it is our responsibility to make a positive contribution to both climate and nature. That’s why Ørsted has taken a market-leading stance on biodiversity enhancements. Developers should be encouraged to show how their projects protect, enhance, and restore biodiversity in the environments where they operate.
Off to a good start
The Crown Estate has made a good start so far by setting out broad aims for the leasing round that include helping to create economic and societal value.
They have also adopted a different approach to spatial design and brought forward the Habitats Regulations Assessment process to provide greater confidence and hopefully speed up the development process.
And The Crown Estate has indicated that they intend to take a more active role to enable critical infrastructure and ports development.
We look forward to continuing discussions with The Crown Estate and other stakeholders in the industry on how they can ensure appropriate weight is given to wider value creation opportunities.
With the right framework we can deliver the best projects for Wales and Southwest England that create local jobs, build the local supply chain, enhance marine biodiversity, and build a solid foundation for the growing floating wind industry.
By Stine Andersen, Ørsted’s Celtic Sea Bid Developer.