RenewableUK Cymru welcomes the detailed publication of The Crown Estate’s much anticipated first commercial-scale floating offshore wind (FLOW) leasing round in the Celtic Sea.

In one of the largest initiatives of its kind in the world, sites totalling 4.5GW of floating wind off the coast of South Wales and South West England will be leased across three agreed areas of the Celtic Sea, producing enough clean, renewable power for 4 million homes. In a further boost, this is now expected to be the first of more leasing rounds that include the region, with the UK Government confirming in its Autumn Statement the intention to unlock up to a further 12 GW of capacity in the Celtic Sea.

The Crown Estate’s Information Memorandum published today sets out the contractual commitments bidders will need to follow to be successful in next year’s upcoming . These include incentives to engage local supply chain companies and drive social and economic value to the region, including:

  • A timely commitment for ports, to give those suitable for FLOW deployment the confidence they need to invest in the necessary infrastructure up front.
  • Contractual commitments to generate positive social and environmental impacts. One of these areas will focus on skills and could include innovative new funding models from developers to help train young people through apprenticeships.
  • Allowing developers to deliver projects in up to three phases of at least 300MW, to help incentivise the ‘stepping stone’ approach to stimulate long-term local supply chain development.

The memorandum also gives more detail about the ways The Crown Estate is looking to de-risk and support the development of a new floating wind market in the UK, including a commitment to reduce the financial risk for bidders through a 50% reduction in annual option fees if a project is subject to undue delays during the consenting process.

Jess Hooper, Director of RenewableUK Cymru said:

The upcoming Celtic Sea leasing round is the leading opportunity for Wales to kick start a burgeoning new industry, producing clean electricity, driving investment, delivering on Wales’ net zero targets and unlocking the first of thousands of jobs and opportunities for local people. Floating offshore wind is critical for Wales’ decarbonisation journey, and we are pleased to see this new level of detail from The Crown Estate around building the right foundations now to support a new green industrial legacy for decades to come. This round will unlock massive opportunities to stimulate Wales’ floating wind supply chain and to attract billions in investment in new infrastructure by transforming ports into renewable energy industrial hubs.

The prospect of 4.5GW now and a commitment to a potential 12GW pipeline will transform Wales into a major lynchpin in the UK’s drive to net zero and gives Welsh businesses a clear pathway for green growth. Our recent report, ‘The Critical Role of Welsh Wind Power reveals that Wales needs to quadruple its deployment of wind power in just over a decade to meet the Welsh Government target of 100% electricity from renewable sources by 2035. The Celtic Sea represents the lion’s share of this new capacity, and provided we see an ambitious delivery plan that delivers at the scale and pace required, Wales stands poised to reap the benefits.