Lease agreements have now been awarded for five more offshore windfarm sites in Scottish waters.
A lot of survey work must still take place, but companies now hope to submit planning applications in the next two years.
The projects, which could together deliver 5GW (gigawatts) of electricity, are located at Argyll Array off Tiree and Islay on the west coast, Beatrice off Caithness in the Moray Firth, and at Inch Cape and Neart na Gaoithe in the Outer Forth and Tay.
The Crown Estate’s Scottish commissioner, Gareth Baird, said: “The Crown Estate has already invested £16million in offshore renewable energy in Scotland, and plans to invest another £20million in the next five years, funding environmental studies and engagement work that help de-risk the projects and attract investment.
“We’re very pleased to achieve this important milestone, and will continue to work closely with Scottish Government and developers to progress projects and attract investment, with the aim of helping meet Scotland’s ambitious targets on renewable energy production.”
Scottish Power Renewables, the developer with the lease for Argyll Array off Tiree, said it hoped to submit a planning application in 2013.
Susan Scobie, communications manager for SSE, which has the lease for the Islay site, said: “We are pleased we have concluded the agreement, but we are still at the very early stages of the project, with a few years of work still to go ahead before we submit for planning permission.”
Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “We welcome the announcement by the Crown Estate Commissioners to take these hugely important developments to the next stage.
“Scotland has an estimated quarter of Europe’s offshore wind resource, making us the powerhouse of green energy in Europe. With this wealth of natural resources it is vital that we plan now to secure the benefits of this next energy revolution for future generations.”
Each agreement for lease provides an option to take a seabed lease in the future. This enables developers to make key project decisions as they prepare applications for consent. Final consent is awarded by the regulator, Marine Scotland, which ensures projects meet statutory environmental, safety and operational standards.