The contribution made by offshore wind farms to UK government coffers increased substantially last year, reports the state owner of the UK seabed, the Crown Estate. It achieved a 122% increase in revenue from offshore renewables.
Outlining its financial performance and key achievements for the year ending 31 March 2012, the Crown Estate provided details about its marine division.
Total revenue generated by the marine estate was £55.6m (€69.0m), representing a 13.3% increase on the previous year and a 32.7% increase on 2008’s results.
Offshore renewables – primarily offshore wind farms – contributed £7.8m, or 14.0%, to the marine estate’s overall revenue, and identified by the Crown Estate as a significant factor in a healthy increase in the profitability of its marine estate.
Meanwhile, work related to subsea cables and pipelines contributed £12.7m to the marine division’s revenue, with some of this linked to the offshore wind sector.
The value of the UK’s marine estate also increased, rising by 24%, to £726m. The Crown Estate attributes part of this jump to rises in the value of individual offshore wind farms, due to "more certainty over expected income".
Given the contribution that offshore wind is now making to UK government coffers via the Crown Estate, it is little surprise that the organisation is one of the most consistent and effective champions of the sector.
It expects offshore wind to continue to be the "main driver for growth" of its marine revenue, however, the Crown Estate warns that this growth will depend on overcoming a number of "hurdles". These include progress on grid connectivity, reduction in the unit cost of offshore wind-generated electricity, development of a domestic supply chain and success in securing sufficient private sector investment.
The Crown Estate emphasises that offshore wind now accounts for about 1.5% of UK electricity production and that the UK now boasts 4.2GW of offshore wind capacity that is either operational or under construction.