The UK’s seabed landlord has announced a delay to awarding leasing rights for up to 7GW of offshore wind capacity, putting pressure on the government’s target of reaching 40GW of capacity by 2030.
However, both the Crown Estate and industry body RenewableUK remain confident that this target can be met despite the delay.
The Crown Estate had planned to award lease agreements in 2021, but now expects this to happen in spring 2022, subject to the outcome of how the proposed sites will attract local conservation efforts.
It had planned to launch the multi-cycle bidding stage for leases earlier this autumn, but now expects this to take place in November, it stated.
The seabed landlord added that offshore wind farms securing leases in its latest bidding round “could begin generating clean power by the end of the decade”.
This means the 7GW of projects the Crown Estate hopes to award should be online in time to count towards the UK government’s recently reiterated target of reaching 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 – as long as there are no further delays.
The Crown Estate added that this leasing will still help to unlock capacity needed to meet the government’s reiterated 40GW by 2030 target.
Its business development manager Jonny Boston, said: “Today’s announcement updates our intended timeline for the final stretch of our tender, ensuring we can maintain a fair, robust and transparent process.”
Industry body RenewableUK also remains confident about hitting the 2030 target.
Its head of policy and regulation, Rebecca Williams, said: "Although no one wants to see any delays in the leasing process, we will continue to work closely with the Crown Estate to ensure we maximise the delivery of new offshore wind projects as swiftly as possible.
“The prime minister made clear in his landmark speech that he wants to see 40GW of offshore wind installed by 2030, nearly quadrupling current capacity. Industry remains determined to achieve this and confident that we will do so".
The UK currently has 11.9GW of operational offshore wind capacity, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly.
It has a further 10GW of projects already committed to and 18GW in development or pre-planning, according to the Crown Estate. All of this capacity would need to be commissioned by the end of the decade for the UK to hit the government’s target.
Last week, UK prime minister Boris Johnson reiterated government’s ambition of 40GW of offshore wind capacity being operational in UK waters by 2030, alongside setting a new target for floating offshore wind – 1GW by 2030 – and announcing plans to double the capacity of renewable energy to be awarded in the country’s next tender, which is due to open in late 2021.