Offshore wind energy

We manage the seabed to the 12 NM territorial sea limit, as well as holding the rights to the resources to develop renewable energy out to the continental shelf around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Offshore wind farm

We manage the seabed to the 12 NM territorial sea limit, as well as holding the rights to the resources to develop renewable energy out to the continental shelf.

The Crown Estate plays a major role in the development of the offshore wind energy industry in the UK. We not only manage the UK seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit but also, under the 2004 Energy Act, hold the rights to the resources to develop renewable energy within the renewable energy zone (REZ), which extends out to the continental shelf.

A proactive approach

Since 2000, we have run six rounds of offshore wind which have increased in scale and technical complexity as the industry has developed. Leases for projects and programmes are associated with waters around England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The offshore wind industry has become a material contributor to the low carbon electricity supply in the UK and in the process, brought significant new inward investment, businesses and jobs. To help make sure this industry realises its full potential, we are take a proactive approach in development and operational assets. This ranges from engaging with statutory and non-statutory bodies, regulators, trade associations, local and national governments and representatives of the shipping, aviation and fisheries industries, as well as industry organisations such as the Offshore Wind Programme Board, G9 , SPARTA, charged with specific objectives in improving through life costs, health and safety and  operational performance.

Our business

Encouraging this new industry is a key component of The Crown Estate strategy, and we have seen exponential growth in activity.

By supporting developers as they harness the potential of offshore wind through some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world, this can provide valuable jobs to local communities as well as underpin the Government's commitment to renewable energy and a reduction in CO2 levels, as well as an increase in energy security.

Offshore wind farm aerial

A further 4.5 GW of offshore wind farms is under construction. This is significant for our business as our revenue increases in line with offshore energy production.”

Offshore wind has secured its place as a material contributor to the UK’s energy mix, with around the same number of offshore wind turbines now installed off the UK coastline as there are in the whole of the rest of the world.

The UK’s first commercial offshore wind farm, North Hoyle, started operation just 13 years ago. The UK is now the world leader, with 29 offshore wind farms generating over 5.1 GW of operational capacity and a further 4.5 GW under construction.

This is significant for our business as our revenue increases in line with offshore energy production and the growth of the sector.

To underline this, our annual ‘Offshore wind: Operational report’ for 2015 detailed how, from meeting zero of the UK’s electricity demand a decade ago, offshore wind now meets around 5% today and is on course to deliver 10% by 2020.

Offshore wind operational report (PDF, 1.82 MB)

We have funded, and otherwise supported, a huge range of initiatives, from undertaking expensive but very important surveys of the mammal and bird populations to identifying the skills gap and careers opportunities in marine renewable energy. The results of this work are made freely available to existing and potential developers and, where possible, to the general public.

Our approach has been endorsed by a report from Ernst & Young which found that from an investor perspective, the UK as one of the most attractive country’s in the world for offshore wind development. This conclusion is further endorsed by the interest of major global players throughout the supply chain.