The offshore wind resource around the coast of the south west is widespread. The majority of the resource will only be accessible from around 2015, when the technology has developed enough to be placed in deeper water. Development of offshore wind has been through 3 “rounds” of licensing by The Crown Estate, who are the owners of most of the seabed out to 12 NM. The Crown Estate has designated zones around the coast for which wind developers (large utility companies and consortiums) apply for. The awardees have an exclusive right to develop offshore wind farms in that zone. There are two zones around the south west currently being discussed - the Atlantic Array in the Bristol Channel and the West of Wight wind farm off the coast of Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
The technology for offshore wind has been largely based on onshore wind, but adapted to be fixed to the seabed and to withstand the tough environmental conditions out at sea. As the terrain is flat and there are no obstacles, offshore wind turbines are larger, with a larger swept area relative to the tower size than onshore. Offshore wind farms are much more commercial than the other offshore renewable technologies but the technology is still being developed to access resources in deeper water, for example the development of floating wind turbines.
Offshore wind farms are generally several hundred MWs, with the Round 3 projects in the next 10 years to be around a GW in capacity. They are large, multi- million pound, industrial projects and not suitable as community projects.
However, the developers of offshore wind farms are keen to engage the coastal communities and as an individual or as a group you can lend your active support for these projects through attending public exhibitions.