Queen's property manager attracts large bids for seabed auction

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
Offshore wind farm energy turbines at dawn. Surreal but natural sunrise at sea. Modernistic image. The future of clean energy production.
The Crown Estate is auctioning leases to accommodate at least 7 gigawatts of new wind farms with the potential to power over six million homes. Photo: Getty

An auction of seabed rights to build offshore wind farms off the coasts of England and Wales has attracted a multi-billion pound bidding bonanza.

The Crown Estate, which manages the Queen’s property portfolio, owns the exclusive rights to lease the seabed around the British Isles.

The monarch’s property manager is awarding leases to energy firms that want to develop turbines at sea. It is the first of such an auction in over a decade.

The company is auctioning leases to accommodate at least 7 gigawatts of new wind farms with the potential to power over six million homes.

It is understood that bids for the long-awaited auction have reached record highs, beating industry expectations.

According to ReNews, two 1.5 gigawatt wind farm plots within the Irish Sea got the most frenzied bidding, with energy companies offering to pay as much as £200m ($275m) per site— a total revenue of £400m a year. It was expected the sites would attract between £15m and £45m.

But awards for another three areas have yet to be decided.

The licences are for 10 years, meaning the auction will raise at least £4bn over 10 years. As such, the Queen’s income is expected to rise by at least £100m a year, while the takings will generate over £300m a year for the Treasury.

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Queen Elizabeth II also owns properties on London’s Regent Street and St James’s as well as malls and retail parks across the UK.

The Crown Estate manages the £13.4bn commercial property held by the monarch, in the public interest.

All of the registered company’s profits go to the UK Treasury, which passes on 25% of profits — with a two-year time lag — to the Queen through the sovereign grant.

The auction and the vast sums involved have prompted calls for a green sovereign wealth fund — a state-owned investment fund to tackle the climate crisis.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has vowed that the UK will become a global leader on climate change.

So far the government has committed to 40 gigawatts of offshore wind farms in Britain by 2030, up from just over 10 gigawatts operational today.

In December, during the United Nations Climate summit, the UK submitted a new national climate plan — or nationally determined contribution (NDC) — which confirms its pledge to cut greenhouse gas pollution by at least 68% by 2030 from 1990 levels.

It was the first time Britain put forward its own proposal under the global Paris Agreement, as it previously came under the European Union’s plans.

Boris Johnson told the UN climate body that the UK will end foreign funding for oil and gas projects it announced.

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