The Crown Estate is exploring measures to facilitate the generation of up to an additional 4GW of electricity from several offshore wind farm projects currently in development. Developers of seven sites have requested an assessment of the potential for increased capacity within the seabed areas for which they hold existing rights. The projects under consideration include Awel y Môr, Dudgeon Extension, Sheringham Shoal Extension, North Falls, Five Estuaries, Rampion 2, and Dogger Bank D.
The move aligns with The Crown Estate's commitment to leveraging its position as the seabed manager around England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to catalyze the UK's energy transition, support environmental conservation, and foster growth for communities and industries. Recognizing advancements in offshore wind technology since awarding seabed rights to these projects, the initiative aims to maximize clean energy generation from the same seabed area.
The decision-making process will involve a careful balance between economic and clean energy potential and commitments to nature and biodiversity, considering the increasing demands on the valuable seabed resource. The Crown Estate will conduct a ‘Plan-Level Habitats Regulations Assessment' (HRA) to evaluate the collective environmental impact of the additional capacity across all seven projects. Stakeholder consultations, including engagement with Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) and regulators, will be integral to the decision-making process.
Gus Jaspert, Marine Managing Director at The Crown Estate, emphasized the strategic and data-led approach to optimize the seabed resource while staying true to commitments to nature and biodiversity. The proposed capacity increases aim to utilize seabed areas with existing rights that are not fully utilized and may have limited alternative uses.
RenewableUK Chief Executive Dan McGrail highlighted the importance of maximizing offshore wind capacity in areas with existing leasing agreements to align with the government's target of achieving 50GW by 2030.