The rush to develop wind energy offshore has picked up pace with the pre-registration of over 20,000 MW of projects for site leases under the next stage of the UK's offshore wind program. Twenty-nine companies and joint ventures registered their interest in some 70 sites around Britain owned by the Crown Estate, which holds the title deeds to most of the UK's territorial seabed. It is the Crown Estate's second invitation to prospective developers to register their interest in acquiring site leases. Much of the 20,000 MW proposed, however, are overlapping or competing for sites, reports Frank Parrish of the Crown Estate. The largest project is 2000 MW in size, he says. Around 80% of the proposed capacity lies within three strategic areas identified by the government's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). These are the Irish Sea off north-west England and north Wales, the outer Wash and the outer Thames Estuary -- both off England's east coast. The greatest focus of interest is on the outer Wash, with about 50% of proposals located there. Some 25% of projects are for beyond the 12 mile territorial limit. Only companies that register their interest will be able to bid for sites in the competition for leases -- to be launched in June, with offers of leases expected at the end of September. Leases for the most sought after sites will be awarded to applicants considered to be "best fitted to develop each site to its optimum capacity," says Parrish.
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