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Renewables: Overview

Sea of possibility

The Crown Estate is preparing to lease vast areas of sea off the coast of Britain to wind farm developers. David Barros reports on the opportunities.

Offshore wind turbines

Offshore wind turbines

The Crown Estate, which owns shores a distance of 22.2km off the UK coast, is poised for its biggest venture yet.

Its Round Three phase of leasing offshore sites for wind energy will create one of the biggest infrastructure projects for wind energy in the world.

In total, it will allow generators to deliver 25GW of electricity from wind farms off the British coast.

These are planned for nine zones around the territorial waters and the Continental Shelf (see map).

Consultations with preferred bidders are ongoing, but the licensing award is expected to generate 57,000 jobs by 2020. The potential market investment for R3 is estimated at £100bn.

Crown Estates hopes that negotiations will be concluded next month, with zone development agreements (ZDAs) signed and a development partner in each zone announced.

Once this happens, the Crown Estate says it will work with regional development partnerships to stimulate local construction industries, signalling jobs for potential contractors.

Technology and logistics are set to be major issues. The Crown Estate has already bought a prototype wind turbine
designed by manufacturer Clipper Windpower (see below) but technology for high output turbines remains scarce.

To aid this technology development, the Crown Estate is running regional and national forums to encourage industry businesses to share information.

The licencing award is expected to generate 57,000 jobs by 2020. The potential market investment for Round Three is estimated at £100M


It is working in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Government, along with Regional Development Agencies and Enterprise Agencies to co-ordinate supply chain events across the UK for spring 2010.

The Estate believes these partnerships are ideal for harnessing local knowledge and expertise, while giving businesses national perspective and engaging the participation of Round Three development partners.

Pentland wave and wind

Earlier this year the Crown Estate announced it had received 42 applications from 20 bidders for leasing of the
Pentland Firth Strategic Area, surrounding the Orkney Isles.
The Pentland Firth will be the world’s first large-scale wave and tidal leasing programme and is expected to deliver a further 700MW by 2020. Ranging from small 10MW demonstration sites to large 200-300MW commercial sites,
the Crown Estate is working with the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to reach a decision over the bids.
However, the implementation is heavily dependent on a number of issues including grid, consenting processes, supply chain and economic support.

Grants for developers

Britain is to manufacture the world’s largest wind turbine blades, thanks to grants arranged by the Department for
Energy and Climate Change.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband announced last month that grants would go to Clipper Windpower, Artemis Intelligent Power and Siemens Wind Power UK.
Clipper will receive £4.4M to develop a 70m-long prototype blade weighing over 30t - the largest in the world - for the
Britannia project. The company will now start development work for the blades on a plant in the north east of England.
Meanwhile, Artemis will receive £1M to transfer existing technology from automotive to wind energy, and Siemens will get £1.1M to develop the next generation power convertors for its larger offshore turbines.
The grants were awarded under the Low Carbon Energy Demonstration (LCED) capital grants scheme and Vestas was the first company to receive one.

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