United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Crown Estate Scotland seeks 5.7GW offshore wind to decarbonise oil and gas

Crown Estate Scotland to offer seabed leases for wind farms that demonstrate innovations and power fossil fuel infrastructure

An offshore oil rig in the Cromarty Firth, Scotland (pic credit: Mustang Joe/Flickr)
An offshore oil rig in the Cromarty Firth, Scotland (pic credit: Mustang Joe/Flickr)

Seabed landlord Crown Estate Scotland plans to offer project rights for offshore wind farms to decarbonise oil and gas infrastructure in a new 6GW-plus leasing round.

It aims to open a bidding window in June 2022, whereby developers can secure exclusivity agreements for seabed leases for their offshore wind farms.

Developers will be able to submit projects that will either be used to decarbonise oil and gas infrastructure in Scottish waters, or to demonstrate offshore wind innovations, such as green hydrogen production.

The leasing round will feature one pot for smaller scale innovation projects with capacities of up to 100MW, and a separate pot for larger projects to power oil and gas infrastructure.

Crown Estate Scotland believes the leasing round could see sites awarded that could support up to 5.7GW of offshore wind capacity to power oil and gas infrastructure and up to 500MW to demonstrate innovations.

The new leasing round follows an auction earlier this year, in which Crown Estate Scotland awarded options on leases for offshore wind farms that the regulator hopes will launch up to 24GW of new capacity. 

Senior policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, Ben Miller, said: “This [latest] announcement adds further momentum to the offshore wind sector in Scotland, and increases again the size of the supply chain opportunity ahead.”

Oil and gas installations require power for production and to run essential operating systems. This power is typically generated using diesel and gas generators, Crown Estate Scotland explained. However, offshore wind projects could provide electrification solutions in order to reduce emissions. The government agency added that using offshore wind – instead of diesel and gas – to power oil and gas sites would therefore “reduce the carbon emissions associated with those sites”.

Developers would first secure an exclusivity agreement – a preliminary agreement between the seabed landlord and the developer – but must wait for publication of a government report into using offshore wind to demonstrate innovations and power oil and gas before they can finalise arrangements for their projects. The government is expected to publish the report in autumn 2023.

Colin Palmer, director of marine for Crown Estate Scotland, said: “This leasing is about creating an opportunity for enhanced roll out of offshore wind technology in Scottish waters. Whilst we recognise it will be for industry and government to take the key steps needed on the oil and gas transition, we believe this will provide a step towards progressing that transition to net zero.”  

Scotland’s net zero and energy secretary Michael Matheson added that the bidding round could help renewable projects demonstrate technologies such as green hydrogen.

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