The Welsh government has granted Section 36 consent, with deemed planning permission, for the first floating wind farm in Wales.
The 100MW Erebus floating wind farm will be located 40km off the coast of Pembrokeshire in the Celtic Sea.
The project is the largest floating wind farm to secure full planning consent in the UK to date. Blue Gem Wind, a collaboration between Simply Blue Group and TotalEnergies, will build the Erebus facility.
The construction will include the installation of seven 14MW wind turbines on floating platforms, which will be able to power 93,000 homes. This is the first phase in a project which, when completed, will power four million homes, and Blue Gem Wind is on track to begin operating the Erebus project by the year 2026.
Contracts for difference
The latest planning decision will allow Blue Gem Wind to bid for funding in the next round of the UK’s next Contracts for Difference (CfDs) project.
The CfD scheme hopes to encourage renewable investment in the UK by offering to pay for the electricity produced by such facilities at a fixed price, rather than at the price of the electricity in the future. Some investors are hesitant to invest in renewable projects as the value of the electricity they produce can be variable, and the CfD scheme aims to eliminate this hesitancy.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I urge the UK government to do its part through the Contracts for Difference process to drive the industry forward by working with the Erebus team to secure the first floating offshore wind project in Welsh waters, bringing jobs and green energy to our communities”.
Projects have until the end of March to qualify for this summer’s auction. The UK government has set a reference price of $140.22 (£116) per megawatt-hour for the 2026/27 and 2027/28 delivery years for offshore wind.
The funding is highly sought-after amid growing costs of production. In February wind giants, including Vattenfall and Ørsted, called for tax breaks from the UK government in addition to the CfDs which they were granted.
The UK currently has 13.7GW of offshore wind capacity, with a power strategy in place to increase this to 50GW by 2030. After China, the UK currently represents the second-largest offshore wind market.