The Crown Estate launches small-scale MHK leasing program

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The Crown Estate, one of the largest property owners in the United Kingdom, has launched a program of offshore leasing for small-scale marine hydrokinetic (MHK) testing and demonstration projects less than 3 MW.

The program opened on Sept. 21 in a MHK market projected to be worth a possible US$6.85 billion in exports alone by 2050.

The Crown Estate owns more than half of the UK's foreshore and issued a press release that says, “This need has been identified where the existing test and demonstration sites or zones are not fulfilling specific site conditions of a particular technology type or where there is a local development opportunity at a small scale.”

In other words, the semi-independent, incorporated public body that manages an extensive property portfolio in the UK is addressing the leasing process for testing and developing renewable energy projects. In this case, MHK development is at the forefront of the redesigned Crown Estate process.

“We recognize that as the wave and tidal current industries evolve, we need to continue to listen to our customers if we are to keep up to date with the developing market and maximize the value of our contribution,” said Sian Wilson, technology manager.

“With the introduction of new leasing for small-scale test and demonstration, we hope to support the industry in making the step up to larger commercial scale array deployment and unlock value over the long term.”

The organization said its leasing program has been designed with greater flexibility so that developers can make an application when they are ready, rather than in a specific timeframe, to help better align the progress of the technology, project development and financing.

According to information from the Crown Estate, to date it has done the following:

  • Provided leases for technology test and demonstration facilities in multiple places    around the UK (e.g., the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney);
  • Leased sites for a number of other tidal current and wave test and demonstration projects, some intended to comprise arrays of generation devices, around the UK;
  • Held two commercial leasing rounds for tidal current and wave projects, one in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters strategic area (north of Scotland) and the other in the Rathlin Island and Torr Head strategic area (Northern Ireland);
  • Initiated 40 technical studies to accelerate and de-risk the project development process, through the Pentland Firth enabling actions fund;
  • Published a study on UK wave and tidal resources, and ran an industry engagement exercise on future wave and tidal leasing;
  • Decided to make a capital investment in the Meygen tidal current project; and
  • Commenced a leasing process to offer seabed rights for tidal range schemes.

In 2014, locally based organizations were awarded rights to manage and sub-let parts of the seabed for the first time.
 

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