Offshore Round 4 wind farm site selection study, UK
In 2020, The Crown Estate created an opportunity for leases for the development of at least 7 GW of new offshore wind farm capacity and the associated infrastructure off the coasts of England and Wales. The Crown Estate is an independent commercial business created by an Act of Parliament and with a diverse portfolio of UK building, shoreline, seabed, forestry, agriculture and common land assets. The Round 4 leasing process aimed to unlock new areas of the English and Welsh seabeds for generating low-carbon energy for millions of homes by 2030. There is also an associated auction in Scotland, ScotWind. The Round 4 leasing process presented a substantial opportunity for RSK to showcase its knowledge of the marine renewables industry and deep understanding of the major constraints and consenting issues to help support developers and consenting authorities during the array and cable route selection processes.
By combining the experience of our marine and GIS teams, we identified and ranked potential developable areas in Bidding Area 1 (Dogger Bank) and Bidding Area 2 (Eastern regions) in the North Sea on a client’s behalf. We identified and mapped the likely constraints, appraised the impacts on major receptors and developed a robust system to rank the developable areas based on the likelihood of development from the consenting (environmental and social impacts) and economic (physical constraints and financial return) perspectives. We also conducted a desk-based review of a sample of offshore wind farm development applications. These results complemented our findings regarding the key constraints identified in the candidate developable areas. Our review highlighted that these significant constraints were associated with radar interference, navigation issues and the Habitats Regulations, particularly ornithological impacts.
Our detailed report summarised The Crown Estate’s strategic studies to date and identified all the existing UK and major European offshore wind farms and associated developers. We identified, analysed and mapped 56 constraints covering themes, including habitats, navigation, aviation, leisure and tourism, oil and gas, fishing and fisheries and cultural heritage.
In the study, we identified 16 candidate developable areas through working around the analysed constraints and using the physical characteristics of the area. We used The Crown Estate’s assessment methodology to develop a ranking system that assessed the impact of potential offshore wind farm developments on the identified receptors and ranked the candidate developable areas in order of favourability for development from the consenting and financial return perspectives. The study, associated report and robust online GIS system (using Arc GIS Online) were delivered to enable our client to view and manipulate the ranked developable areas and constraints to help inform its future business development decisions in the North Sea.