UK-based The Crown Estate has signed agreements for lease (AfL) for six proposed offshore wind farm extensions in the waters around England and Wales totalling 2.8 GW. AfL’s have been granted for extensions to the existing Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, Gwynt y Mor, Galloper, Greater Gabbard and Rampion projects. These are in addition to the AfL’s proposed extension to Thanet offshore wind farm, announced previously.

According to The Crown Estate, each proposal had successfully progressed through the plan level Habitats Regulations Assessment stage, which assesses the possible impact of the proposed wind farm extensions on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance. Developers will now be focussed on environmental assessments and surveys, before seeking planning consent through the statutory planning process and securing connections to the grid.

Of the six, agreements for four projects have been signed by RWE Renewables and its project partners. The first project, Gwynt y Mor extension is called Awel y Mor and is located off the coast of North Wales in the Irish Sea. Its capacity will be up to 576 MW of which RWE owns 60 per cent, with the remaining stake owned by Stadtwerke Munchen (30 per cent) and Siemens Financial Services (10 per cent). RWE has formed a 50:50 joint venture with SSE Renewables to develop the 504 MW Greater Gabbard extension, which is now called North Falls. The third project, Rampion 2, which has a potential capacity of up to 1.2 GW, is 50.01 per cent owned by RWE. A Macquarie-led consortium and Enbridge are also part of the development’s joint venture. RWE has decided to seek the permission to develop the remaining seabed option at the original Zone Six of the existing Rampion project and combine this with the extension project at the wind farm. Finally, the 353 MW Galloper extension is called Five Estuaries, with development lead by RWE.

As far as the remaining two projects are concerned, Equinor is developing the up to 719 MW Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon extensions.

According to RWE, all the project extensions the company is involved with are at very early stages. It has stated that necessary development and consenting activities will now progress in accordance with current UK Government guidelines, which will include comprehensive stakeholder consultation and determining each project’s exact installed capacity. The consenting processes are expected to take three to five years, with the wind farms slated to become fully operational towards the end of the decade.

REGlobal’s Views: The six projects will take the UK offshore pipeline to 40 GW, which is the country’s targeted offshore wind capacity by 2030. Delivering such large-scale offshore wind growth efficiently will require significant amounts of new infrastructure and create big investment opportunities.