Blue Gem Wind, the joint venture between Total, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Simply Blue Energy, a pioneering Celtic Sea blue economy project developer has secured seabed rights to develop Wales’ first floating offshore wind farm.

The Crown Estate, which acts as manager of the seabed around Wales, England and Northern Ireland, has awarded seabed rights, in relation to the 96 MW Erebus floating wind demonstration project, located approximately 44km off the Pembrokeshire coastline.

Hugh Kelly, Project Managing Director, said: “We are incredibly pleased to sign the Agreement for Lease for Erebus. This first project in Wales will begin to unlock the significant potential of floating wind in the Celtic Sea. It is the first of the stepping-stone projects required to launch a new chapter in the development of offshore energy in the South West; a new industry that can deliver significant benefits for the local supply chain and the coastal communities of Wales and the wider UK.”

This is the first time that rights have been awarded for floating wind in Wales, marking a significant moment for the nation’s offshore wind sector and the Celtic Sea.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “The climate emergency means we will need much more renewable energy to meet our needs, and Welsh Government has supported the development of marine energy for many years. I am pleased to welcome this next step in harnessing the potential for energy identified in the recently published Wales National Marine Plan. We will continue to ensure projects bring sustainable jobs and investment to Wales whilst delivering on our legally binding climate commitments.”

The project comes forward as part of The Crown Estate’s ongoing Offshore Wind Test and Demonstration opportunity, designed to facilitate pre-commercial innovation through the trial of new and emerging technologies in live conditions. The award of seabed rights, known as an ‘Agreement for Lease’, will allow Blue Gem Wind to progress with environmental assessments and surveys, and seek a planning consent for the Erebus Project through the statutory processes.

Will Apps, Head of Energy Development at The Crown Estate said: “Welsh waters are home to a thriving offshore wind industry, and as it continues to evolve and mature, innovation will be vital to unlocking a sustainable pipeline of new capacity over the longer term. With an increasingly busy marine environment, achieving this will require exploring new technologies in more diverse and technically challenging areas which is why we are delighted to support the Erebus Project off the Welsh coast by awarding an Agreement for Lease.”

Floating wind has wide potential, opening access to sites further offshore, which have less impact on the landscape and coastal activity, and benefit from higher wind resources. In a recent report, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult has advised that there could be as much as 50GW of electricity capacity available in the Celtic Sea and estimated that the first GW of floating wind could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and £682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Renewable energy sources such as floating offshore wind will play a vital role in the UK Government’s efforts to reach our aim of net-zero emissions by 2050. The UK is a world leader in exploring marine technologies that harness the clean, natural energy of our tides and offshore wind. The development of these projects in Welsh waters could create hundreds of sustainable jobs across Wales and accelerate the UK’s shift to clean growth.”