RYA fears that the new offshore wind energy plans will impact boaters

A new leasing programme for wind test and

demonstration projects, including floating wind turbines, has been announced by

The Crown Estate (TCE).

The announcement was made at the

RenewableUK offshore wind conference yesterday and now the Royal Yachting

Association (RYA) has expressed its concern about the scheme.

TCE’s new leasing programme aims to encourage

further investment in a range of offshore wind test and demonstration projects,

including a leasing round for floating offshore wind technology.

Martin Simpson, head of new energy and

technology at TCE said: ‘To unlock sustained growth in offshore wind we have to

demonstrate that technological advancements can drive down costs.

‘This new leasing programme is opening the

doors for testing and demonstration of new technology across the spectrum –

from turbines to foundations and cables, thus cementing the UK as the best

place for investments in supply chain and commercial projects.

‘Floating wind is included for the first

time because of its future potential.’

It is believed that floating turbines will

be important in establishing commercial viability of new cost reducing measures

and will yield benefits beyond 2020.

The Crown Estate is inviting industry to

propose sites for the development of floating wind farms; the process is

expected take to up nine months allowing time for early stakeholder

engagement.

This timetable means some projects will be allowed to commence construction as early as 2017.

Successful projects will include arrays of

up to 15 machines, utilising floating foundations and producing less than 100

MW. The technologies involved must not have been previously deployed

commercially and the projects must be used solely for test and demonstration

purposes.

RYA CONCERNS

Stuart Carruthers RYA Cruising Manager

said: ‘At this stage very little detail has been provided by TCE about what is

actually proposed.

‘The RYA has a robust working relationship

with TCE and we will continue to engage with them on this new leasing programme

as part of our regular dialogue with them.

‘In particular we will be seeking to gain

more details on locations for test sites so we can consider the potential

impacts on recreational boating activity.’

He added: ‘This latest announcement raises

particular concerns for us in relation to the potential cumulative impacts of

numerous new technologies being deployed in already busy sea areas.


‘Whilst TCE indicates that this will be a step-based process we remain

concerned about the compound effect that incremental steps could have.

‘In line with our policy position we will

object to proposals that either separately or together lead to a loss of

amenity and/or have an adverse socio-economic impact on recreational boating.

‘We will also object to those elements of a

proposed development that present an intolerable hazard to navigation.’

The RYA has worked hard over the past

decade to establish a strong policy position with the offshore renewable

energy industry and says it has achieved considerable success by engaging with TCE,

Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Maritime and Coastguard

Agency and the Department for Transport.

As a

member of NOREL (Nautical and Offshore Renewable Energy Liaison Group) the RYA

works to ensure that the cumulative and in combination effects are recognised

and that development proposals are shown on charts with all other built and

planned sites so that the overall impact can be assessed.

FLOATING WIND TURBINES

The need to cut the costs of offshore wind energy is the primary driver behind

the search for new technologies such as floating turbines. Floating turbines

are already being tested in Norway and the United States and France and

Portugal are currently developing test projects.

Scotland’s Energy Enterprise and Tourism

Minister, Fergus Ewing announced at the conference that developers of floating

offshore wind pilot projects will be eligible for a new subsidy.

Floating wind turbines are tethered to the seabed through the use of mooring

systems that hold the turbine in place. This allows the turbine to move within

a specified limit set by the length of the mooring system.

Being mounted on a floating structure

allows the turbine to generate electricity in water depths where bottom-mounted

towers are not feasible.


Although this gives the developers the option to site the turbines far offshore

in deep waters there is also the potential that they could be sited within the

12 nautical mile limit.

However, DECC’s own Strategic Environmental Assessment in 2009 acknowledged

that the seas within 12nm of the shore are particularly busy and are especially

important for recreational boating.


Stuart added: ‘The construction of OREI within this sea area is already

creating real problems of squeeze between commercial and recreational traffic

and the RYA continues to support the conclusion drawn in the 2009 Strategic

Environmental Assessment that the bulk of new generation capacity should be

constructed at least 12nm away from the shore.’

 

Click here to

find out more about the RYA’s position paper on offshore wind energy.