The purpose of the area extension offer is to “realise additional offshore wind capacity which could be brought into operation ahead of Round 3 projects,” the Crown Estate says.

The following criteria will form part of the application process:

  • To be eligible to apply for an offshore wind area extension the original project must, as a minimum, have submitted site consent applications;
  • The proposed extension must share a substantial part of one or more boundaries with the original offshore wind site;
  • The extension proposal must demonstrate synergies with the original site, e.g. of construction, operation, improvement of economics and / or grid connectivity;
  • The extension must be capable of delivery in a short timescale;
  • No maximum size of extension is set. However, the scale of the extension should be appropriate to the scale of the original offshore windfarm site taking into account environmental and other constraints.

Offshore wind developers have until 9 September 2009 to register initial interest.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive at the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), comments: “This most welcome announcement underpins confidence in the sector, and shows commitment to further growth of offshore wind. The UK now leads the world in installed offshore capacity and the technology is set to contribute significantly to the country’s energy needs.”

Round 1, launched in 2000, was intended to act as a ‘demonstration’ round, enabling prospective offshore wind developers to gain technological, economic and environmental expertise. Of the 17 projects originally allocated, 7 are now fully operational and 4 are currently under construction, the Crown Estate says.

A competitive tender process for round two sites was launched in 2003. The 15 successful projects awarded Crown Estate Agreements for Lease amount to 7.2 GW and include sites within and beyond territorial waters.