The tender encompasses two areas of the province. The largest development zone is for 600MW around the south-east coast of County Down, which will be leased to a major developer.
The second will be for 200MW around Rathlin Island and Torr Head. Applications will be invited for projects of up to 100MW.
In March, the Crown Estate said it was planning discussions with developers on possible locations for wind and tidal projects.
According to the Northern Ireland government, wind farms are to play a vital role in helping Northern Ireland meet its ambitious 40% renewable electricity target for 2020.
The goal is a key plank of the province’s energy strategy, which aims to shift it away from a near 100% dependence on imported fossil fuels. It will require a four-fold increase in current levels of renewable generation. The strategy also confirms a 10% renewable heat target.
Speaking about the tender announcement, Northern Ireland energy minister Arlene Foster said: "The development of offshore renewable energy provides not only greater energy security and diversity but significant economic and employment benefits. The recent announcement by Dong Energy at Belfast Harbour confirms that Northern Ireland has what it takes for offshore renewable-energy development."