Development and consenting covers the work needed to secure consent and manage the development process through to FID.

What it costs

About £31 million for a 450 MW floating offshore wind farm. This includes environmental impact assessments plus staff costs and other subcontractor work (neither of these itemised in sections below).

Who supplies them

Development services are typically led by the developer’s special purpose vehicle (SPV), which manages the development process and subcontracts work to a range of specialist consultancies. The SPV is a legal entity, which invests in and owns the floating offshore wind farm project.

Key facts

Developers typically set up a SPV for a wind farm. Should the project advance to construction, the SPV will continue to operate for the duration of the offshore wind farm’s life.

In instances where the SPV is a joint venture between two or more developers, it is likely that the development team will be based in stand-alone offices to manage confidentiality.

The SPV provides a structure to enable external investment, although this investment is most likely to take place at FID or post construction.

In the UK, the SPV manages the design of the floating offshore wind farm and secures consent for the floating offshore wind farm and transmission assets.

An early formal step in the consenting process is the production of a scoping report, the purpose of which is to scope the level of impact on various receptors in order to properly define the required assessment process and methodologies, and to ensure the EIA focuses on those impacts that may lead to substantial effects. It also provides an early opinion from the planning authorities to help shape and focus the development activity.

Developers aim to secure planning consent while retaining as much design flexibility as they can. A particular risk for developers is specifying a specific foundation solution or a maximum turbine size, which may prove to be restrictive at the point of procurement and require the developer to request variations to the consents they have already been granted.

Design flexibilities around the floating offshore wind sector makes the environmental impacts less certain and difficult to analyse. The range of options included in the proposed design is known as the design envelope, which includes a clear upper and lower bound on the scale of the project, for example in terms of turbine tip height.

Developers need to undertake an EIA, which describes the potential impacts with regards to a wide range of environmental factors.

The environmental statement is based on a number of detailed analyses. Most offshore wind developers have a predominantly in-house development management capability, with specialist work being outsourced. Specialist suppliers will often second employees into the developer’s team for the duration of the development phase.

Throughout the development process, developers are obliged to seek the views of a number of statutory consultees. These include a wide range of government appointed consultees and authorities, affected local authorities and those that have an interest in the land affected. Non-statutory consultees with specific interests in the development are also likely to be consulted, such as the RSPB.

Developers also seek the views of local communities as part of this process and hold a series of public information and consultation events. Floating offshore wind farms have a greater sea bed footprint than fixed offshore wind farms, requiring multiple anchors for each turbine. They also have mooring lines and dynamic cables in the water column which fixed offshore wind farms do not. These factors require engagement and consultation with local communities and fisheries.

Supporting the work will be a range of specialist consultants, covering engineering design, legal issues, land use, environmental and stakeholder relations.

Guide to a Floating Offshore Wind Farm