The Crown Estate has announced the successful bidders for the nine Round 3 offshore-wind zones, a development that could give the UK an extra 32.2GW of offshore capacity.
All parties have signed Zone Development Agreements with The Crown Estate to take the proposals through the planning and consenting phase.
The largest development is set to take place in the Dogger Bank Zone, where the Forewind Consortium – owned by SSE Renewables, RWE Npower Renewables, Statoil and Statkraft – proposes to develop 9GW of offshore capability.
Currently, offshore wind makes up just one per cent of the world wind market, according to Charles Anglin of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).
He added that power produced from these farms worldwide is currently only 1.5GW.
Anglin said that the development of the nine new sites in the North Sea could produce up to 32GW of power. ‘This will completely transform the scale of the industry,’ he added.
As to whether or not these sites will be fully operational by 2020, when at least 15 per cent of the UK’s energy supply will have to come from renewable sources, Anglin said that it depends on factors such as grid connection.
The developers of farms will need to connect their turbines to the grid with hundreds of undersea cables and the electricity network will need to be upgraded to handle the intermittent nature of wind power supply.
BAE Systems’ Jon Mills echoed these concerns when he told The Engineer Online that the developers need to look beyond installation and the immediate function of turbines and consider long-term maintenance.
Anglin added that there is also the issue of cost. ‘Offshore wind has been such a small market, so costs have been so high because so few manufacturers dominate the market,’ he said. ‘Up until now, offshore has only been one per cent of the market, so there’s been no incentive to invest. Now all the major players in the onshore market are looking to move offshore.’