Offshore wind farm

Crown Estate signs deal to build six offshore wind farms

Image credit: Michal Bednarek/Dreamstime

New wind turbines installed on the Crown Estate will power around seven million homes when the wind blows, according to reports.

The Crown Estate has signed deals with four energy companies to build offshore wind farms that could help decarbonise the UK's energy grid. 

The proceeds from the wind farms - estimated to be around £1bn per year - will be used for the “wider public good”, rather than as a funding boost for the monarchy, the King has announced. 

The deals have been struck between the Crown Estate and companies including BP, Total and Germany’s RWE, and were greenlit by then-business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in July 2022.

The leases have now been signed for the six wind farms, which have a generation capacity of 8 gigawatts (GW). Three of the projects are off the coast of North Wales, Cumbria and Lancashire and the other three are in the North Sea, off Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

The Crown Estate – an ancient portfolio of land and property – belongs to the reigning monarch ‘in right of The Crown’ but it is not their private property. The monarch surrenders the revenue from the Estate – more than £312m a year – to the Treasury each year and receives 25 per cent of the revenue under the Sovereign Grant. 

Although the lease agreements would usually lead to a jump in the monarchy’s official funding, King Charles III has decided to donate the proceeds. 

“In view of the offshore energy windfall, the Keeper of the Privy Purse has written to the Prime Minister and Chancellor to share the King’s wish that this windfall be directed for wider public good, rather than to the Sovereign Grant, through an appropriate reduction in the proportion of Crown Estate surplus that funds the Sovereign Grant,” said a Buckingham Palace spokesperson. 

The Crown Estate has to date awarded offshore wind rights which will see 41GW of capacity installed in British waters. So far, 12GW of that is operational.

Despite the potential of this agreement, the UK would still need to approve more projects to reach the government’s target of having 50GW of offshore wind by the start of the next decade.

Energy and climate minister Graham Stuart said: “Offshore wind is at the heart of our goal to secure clean, affordable and resilient energy supply for all in the UK, while bringing major business, investment and job opportunities along with it.”

Dan McGrail, chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, added: “This announcement represents a major step forward not just for these major offshore wind projects but also for the industry as a whole, as these lease agreements will strengthen our energy security, create jobs and support development of new UK supply chains.

“Offshore wind is playing the leading role in the UK’s transition to clean power, becoming the backbone of our future energy system and helping us to reach net zero as fast as possible.”

Last month, a study from Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) found that almost half of the offshore wind projects needed to reach the government's target are only at the concept stage, despite the deadline for the government’s targets being less than eight years away.

In July last year, Parliament debated a bill to fast-track offshore wind projects in the House of Lords, against a backdrop of record-breaking temperatures and spiralling energy bills fuelling a cost-of-living crisis.

Earlier in 2022, the government announced a £31m fund to help drive further deployment of floating offshore wind projects, and secured 11 gigawatts of winning bids for various renewable technologies at a record-low price.

Overall, 2022 marked the greenest year for energy generation in the UK - with the exception of 2020. That year, the country broke two energy records: one related to wind energy generation and another regarding the overall percentage of low-carbon electricity produced. 

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