Floating Offshore Wind Development and Consenting Process - Risks and Opportunities
- Sep 16, 2021 7:28 am GMT
The UK Government and Devolved Administrations have set ambitious climate change and carbon reduction targets to achieve ‘Net Zero’ by 2050. Offshore wind (OSW) is seen as critical in helping to deliver those targets and enable the switch from fossil fuels across domestic, industrial and transportation energy use.
The development of FOW is vital if the UK is to achieve the overall offshore wind growth targets needed to deliver the UK Government’s ambition of 40 gigawatts (GW) by 20301 , contribute to as much as 70GW of floating wind being installed globally by 20402 and meet the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation of 100GW or more by 20503 . As a result, the number of FOW projects are expected to increase significantly in the UK and around the world over the next 20 years. To meet the targets, deployment of OSW will have to go beyond its current locations in relatively shallow waters in the North Sea and Irish Sea. Locating FOW in deeper waters, further offshore, brings the potential of accessing waters with more consistent, powerful and predictable wind resources.
Despite being perceived by some as being less environmentally constrained, these sites will still have their own challenges. FOW can learn from the fixed bottom OSW sector to understand and deal with potential risks and mitigations but there are notable differences in terms of possible locations, foundation design, construction activities, receptors and sectors that may be affected as a result. The consenting processes for offshore developments and for related land-side infrastructure such as ports, will have to be fit-forpurpose to enable the necessary works in appropriate timescales.
The project was undertaken at a fast-moving time for industry interests, as the initial workstreams from the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, announced in 2019 as a collaboration between industry and government as a catalyst for the long term development of the sector, were being progressed. The Crown Estate’s Round 4 leasing process concluded in early 2021 with the announcement that six areas around England and Wales had been selected by competitive tender for new fixed offshore wind projects. Following on from the Round 4 experience, the ScotWind leasing process, overseen by Crown Estate Scotland, had its deadline for applications extended to July 2021 with an increased top option fee per km2 and an uplifted threshold of supply chain development commitments.
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