Crown Estates announces 18 offshore wind farms

The Crown Estates announced on 2 April that 18 companies had successfully pre-qualified to lease seabed for the development of offshore wind farms.

As landowner of the UK Territorial Seabed, the Crown Estate had invited developers to apply for the option, which was followed by a process of establishing financial and technical credentials of the applicants, and ensuring that proposed sites did not conflict with other uses. The areas in which the approved farms will fall include, Solway Firth, Barrow, Southport, Kentish Flats, Cromer and Teeside.

“Our role at the Crown Estate has been a small but significant part of getting this important new industry on its feet,” said Frank Parrish, Crown Estate Head of Marine Estates. “We have worked closely with DTI and the members of the British Wind Energy Association to get to this stage.”

“This is a terrific start,” Parrish added. “If all of these sites were to go ahead, the power generated would be between 1000 and 1500 MW, enough to power over one million households.”

The contract for one of the sites, in the Irish Sea, near Blackpool, has been awarded to Shell Renewables. “The UK offshore wind has the potential to contribute appreciably to the country’s future energy needs and we wish to play a significant role in developing this exciting new industry,” said David Jones, Executive Vice President of Shell Renewables’ Wind Energy.

The proposed site lies next to two others, awarded by the Crown Estate to Celt Power and Elsam A/S, and the three companies have agreed to work together on site investigation and development. There will now be extensive site evaluation, including onsite wind measurement, environmental studies and discussions with the local community, says Shell. Final consent for the facility will have to be obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry after full consultation, with construction estimated to start in 2004.

The UK opened its first offshore wind farm at the end of last year at Blyth, in Northumberland (see related story).

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