Three new test and demonstration floating offshore wind projects in the Celtic Sea have been given the green light to progress.
Hailed as an “important step forward” for the flourishing technology, the projects have met the initial application criteria set out by the Crown Estate, demonstrating technical competence, delivery capability and technological innovation.
Combined, they will have a total installed capacity of 300 megawatts (MW).
By moving on to the next stage, the three projects now have to carry out a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) to assess possible impacts on protected marine habitats.
Subject to the outcome of the appraisal, the applicants could then be granted seabed agreements for lease.
The three 100 MW projects vying to be built are Whitecross, located off the coast of Devon and Cornwall, and Llŷr 1 and Llŷr 2, both of which will sit south of Pembroke, Wales.
Whitecross has been brought forward by Offshore Wind Limited, a joint venture between Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios, S.A. and Flotation Energy.
Meanwhile, Floventis Energy, a newly established joint venture between SBM Offshore and Cierco, is behind Llŷr.
Each project would test new foundation and mooring technologies, using innovative designs, materials and construction approaches.
They could also play an important role in supporting the development and momentum of the regional supply chain, helping support new jobs, skills and economic growth.
Huub den Rooijen, managing director of the Crown Estate’s marine portfolio, said: “Innovative projects like these represent a vital step towards the UK’s ambitions to develop floating wind at a commercial scale.
“Not only do they help support the commercialisation of the market while bringing down costs, they are key to testing new designs, materials and construction methods while creating new opportunities for the regional supply chain.
“This sort of new technology will have an important role to play as the UK transitions to Net Zero, helping unlock new energy capacity, while potentially helping to reduce the impact on the marine environment.”
Severine Baudic, SBM Offshore new energies and services managing director, added: “We are very proud of this first key milestone achieved with Cierco through our joint venture Floventis Energy.
“Our partnership will benefit from the combined expertise of Cierco in project development and SBM Offshore in floating offshore projects. Together, we have the ambition to stimulate and accelerate the floating wind market while building track-record and local presence.”
Mikael Jakobsson, chairman of Cierco, said: “We are very honored to reach this first milestone for Floventis Energy, which materializes the strong partnership we established with SBM Offshore with the objective to develop responsible and sustainable floating wind projects maximizing benefits to the local communities.”
A spokesperson for Offshore Wind Limited commented: “We are excited to be moving forward with White Cross, our floating wind test & demonstration project off the coast of Devon and Cornwall. It gives us a great opportunity to test new floating foundations and to prepare for commercial deployment of the technology across the UK.”
RenewableUK’s director of future electricity systems, Barnaby Wharton added: “Projects like these have the potential to build on the success of our world-leading floating wind farms already generating in Scottish waters.
“They can stimulate further investment in the UK supply chain for floating wind, manufacturing state-of-the-art technology not only for projects here but also for the global market which is expected to be worth at least £230m a year by 2031 to UK exporters.
“And the more floating wind we install in British waters, the cheaper it will become; this innovative technology can repeat the success of fixed-foundation offshore wind by becoming subsidy-free within a decade.”