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

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


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.


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.