Offshore Wind Tenders Surge in Europe

Europe’s offshore wind sector saw an uptick in activity this
month as the U.K. unveiled development zone plans and France
launched a 500-megawatt tender.

In the U.K., the Crown Estate, which manages seafloor leases,
released details of the areas it is intending to open up in the
country’s upcoming fourth offshore wind leasing round.

The round could see potential U.K. offshore capacity going from
6 gigawatts to 7 gigawatts as developers get access to waters of up
to 60 meters (197 feet) for fixed-foundation turbines. 

Developers said they were confident of breaching a previous
water depth limit of 50 meters (164 feet), according to the leasing

The Crown Estate said it had already picked five regions for
leasing on the basis that they were technically feasible, included
sufficiently large areas of available seabed for offshore wind and
were not affected by development constraints such as nearby
shipping lanes. 

The areas selected included parts of the Dogger Bank, the Irish
Sea, the southern North Sea, and the seabed off the coast of East
Anglia and North Wales.

Four other regions, off Yorkshire, the Wash, the South East and
Anglesey, would be looked at further in advance of Round 4, said
the Crown Estate.

It also confirmed seabed regions off Durham, the Thames, Kent,
the South West, the English and Welsh Bristol Channel, Cardigan
Bay, Northern Ireland and west of the Isle of Wight would not go
into Round 4 because of “significant development

The Crown Estate said it would share further details of the
Round 4 tender design on Nov. 26. 

Jonny Boston, senior development manager at the Crown Estate,
said in
a press release
: “We’ve undertaken significant analysis to
help build a detailed picture of seabed resource and constraints
around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We will continue to
refine this work.” 

Meanwhile, across the Channel, French Prime Minister Edouard
Philippe and ecological transition minister
François de Rugy
announced a tender for 500 megawatts of
offshore wind capacity off the coast of Dunkirk.

France’s energy regulator, the Commission de Régulation de
l’Énergie (CRE), had already pre-selected 10 bidders for the
tender, which is due to last four months. 

Most of the bids are from high-profile offshore wind developers,
including Boralex, DEME, EDF, EDPR, Enbridge, Engie, Equinor,
Iberdrola, Innogy, Parkwind, Quadran, RES, Shell and

Taken together, the U.K. and French developments appear to be
good news for European offshore wind. But the cause for celebration
was tempered in both cases.

In the U.K., enthusiasm over the details of Round 4 was dampened
when the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
published a draft budget notice for its third
contracts-for-difference auction, which is set to be held in May

Only £60 million (USD $77 million) has been allocated to
support offshore wind projects that would be commissioned between
2023 and 2025.

The French tender announcement, meanwhile, was overshadowed by
news that the government had decided to slash support for
previously-authorized offshore wind farms by 25 percent.

Between 2012 and 2014, France awarded tenders for six offshore
wind projects with feed-in tariffs of around €200 ($228 at
today’s rates) per megawatt-hour, for 20 years. 

According to Reuters
, “public opposition to wind farms has
long delayed the projects, and since then prices for international
offshore wind power have more than halved. French energy regulator
CRE has said the projects were too costly.”

With some offshore wind farms in Europe now being built
without any subsidies
at all, developers EDF, Iberdrola and
Engie were said to be happy to get a revised feed-in tariff of
€150 ($171) per megawatt-hour.

French officials believe the next tender will require much lower
subsidy levels, or possibly none at all. Chris Golightly, an
independent offshore wind energy researcher and consultant based in
Brussels, said support levels were still higher than needed. Large
government subsidies are “not the way to go,” he said. 

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Offshore Wind Tenders Surge in Europe