The UK authorities have given a boost to a plan by a joint venture of Netherlands-based SBM Offshore and its US partner Cierco to install a pair of pilot floating wind facilities in the Celtic Sea offshore Wales.

The Crown Estate — which regulates seabed activities off Wales, Northern Ireland and England — confirmed its intent to move forward with a leasing process for two 100-megawatt floating wind test and demonstration sites proposed by the Floventis Energy joint venture.

However, a formal lease award will have to wait until environmental assessments and surveys have been completed and approved under what is known as the Habitats Regulations Assessment process.

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Floventis was formed recently by SBM Offshore and Florida-based privately owned player Cierco to focus on the development of floating wind projects in both the UK and the US.

The Floventis proposal covers the Llyr 1 and 2 test sites located south of Pembroke port in southwest Wales.

The projects have all come forward through The Crown Estate’s Test & Demonstration leasing programme that aims to support the development and commercialisation of innovative energy technologies.

Each of the Llyr sites — in waters 60 to 70 metres deep — will test foundation and mooring technologies using new designs, materials and construction approaches.

Floventis aims to secure seabed rights and relevant permits before installing technology offshore to demonstrate that floating wind operations are feasible, while also offering insights into the future development of local supply chains.

SBM managing director of new energies and services Severine Baudic said the Crown Estate move is a key milestone for the joint venture that aims to “stimulate and accelerate the floating wind market, while building track-record and local presence”.

Chief executive Bruno Chabas added: “SBM Offshore is accelerating its energy transition journey with this first milestone in a co-developer role.

"This is fully in line with our ambition to position the company in the floating offshore wind business and to support the development of projects from its early phase.”

Cierco chairman Mikael Jakobsson also highlighted this milestone, while describing the joint venture’s objective “to develop competitive and sustainable floating wind projects”.

Expanding on this theme, Cierco chief executive Scott Harper said: “Our development strategy is centred on exploring tailored solutions to meet specific local demands and developing technology capable of being competitive across the broader market."

"The Llyr project is a key part of this strategy and Cierco looks forward to working with all stakeholders to deliver market leading solutions in the Celtic Sea.”

Both projects have advanced through The Crown Estate’s Test & Demonstration leasing process that aims to support the development and commercialisation of innovative energy technologies.