The Crown Estate and UK government have joined forces in a bid to protect and restore the UK’s marine environment and unlock offshore energy ambitions.
On 7 December, the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme was launched, a partnership setting out to gather and harness data and evidence, to drive forward the growth of UK offshore wind, key for the sector as it aims to deliver on the government’s ambitions for 40GW of capacity by 2030. It will be led by the Crown Estate, which has committed to a five-year £25mn kick-starter investment, alongside strategic partners BEIS and Defra.
Over the five years, the programme’s strategic research and data projects will provide insights that help the sector to understand and address environmental considerations and interactions with other industries and activities, both around the coast and offshore, which could include hydrogen and CCS developments. By enabling a more coordinated and strategic approach to the delivery of new infrastructure required for net zero by 2050, it will ensure the sector can deliver at pace while protecting the broader natural environment.
The initial projects that the partnership is to bring forward include an East Coast Grid Spatial study, set to be delivered with National Grid ESO, National Grid Electricity Transmission and The Marine Management Organisation. It will look to build understanding of the interactions that future offshore wind farms on the east coast of England will likely face when connecting to the network, along with whether alternative approaches to connection can reduce community and environmental impacts.
It is also bringing forward a UK-wide Future Offshore Wind Scenarios project, with the study to be delivered with Crown Estate Scotland and BEIS. This will develop and assess spatial scenarios in a bid to better understand opportunities for future offshore wind deployment.