Scotland opens offshore wind leasing round to decarbonize North Sea oil and gas

Scotland’s new offshore wind leasing round aiming to decarbonise the North Sea oil and gas sector and position offshore wind as a primary feature of the energy transition has launched today, with plans to deliver the results in March next year.

Following last year’s consultations, Crown Estate Scotland, the body which manages seabed leasing for offshore renewables, announced the details of its Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) offshore wind leasing process back in February 2022. It was revealed that developers would get an opportunity to apply for the rights to build small-scale innovative offshore wind projects of less than 100MW as well as larger projects connected to oil and gas infrastructure.

Now, the Crown Estate Scotland opened the INTOG offshore wind leasing process. A two-week registration window – opened on Wednesday 10 August – will be followed later this month by the opening of the application window as the registration closes on 24 August. The application window closes on 18 November.

The leasing round is expected to help meet the emissions reduction targets agreed on last year in the North Sea Transition Deal and help position offshore wind as a primary feature of the energy transition.

Offshore wind developers are now being invited to submit their project proposals for the leasing of the seabed in the North Sea with small-scale projects and projects which will provide green electricity to oil and gas infrastructure to reduce their carbon emissions.  

Crown Estate Scotland says that the final leasing documents have been optimised to support early project development. As a result, Option Periods were extended from five to seven years and Lease Periods were doubled from 25 to 50 years for electrification projects.

It is expected that applicants will be notified of the leasing results by the end of March 2023 after which the exclusivity agreements will be finalised. Awards will be determined on a mixture of price bid and quality and will be split into two pots – one for smaller-scale innovation projects, and one for projects linked to oil and gas infrastructure.  

Colin Palmer, Director of Marine for Crown Estate Scotland, said: “INTOG represents an exciting opportunity to help decarbonise oil and gas installations and enable innovative projects which are important in lowering costs for the commercial deployment of offshore wind, reducing risk, and developing Scotland as a destination for innovation and technical expertise.”

Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport, said: “Oil and gas continue to play an important role in our economy and it is therefore vital that the energy industry decarbonises as rapidly as possible. The INTOG leasing round presents significant opportunities to cut emissions across these operations while, crucially, enabling the offshore wind sector to expand, innovate, and drive forward Scotland’s ambition to be a renewables powerhouse.”

As reported less than a month ago, green infrastructure developer Cerulean Winds revealed its plans to bid for four seabed lease sites with a combined capacity of 6 GW of floating wind under the INTOG leasing round.

About two weeks later, Cerulean entered into an agreement to provide one of the largest floating wind turbines to be built in the UK to oil and gas company Ping Petroleum to power its project in the North Sea. The turbine will be connected via a cable to Ping’s FPSO vessel for the Avalon project.

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