Offshore windfarms – Part 3 – Special Purpose Vehicle

Development and Consenting

See also Part 2 – Consent

Cost About £50 million

For a 1GW wind farm. Development and consenting covers the work needed to secure consent and manage the development process through to financial close. This includes developer staff costs, environmental impact assessments and other subcontractor work.

Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)

Developers typically set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for a wind farm. An SPV is a separate legal entity created by an organization. The SPV is a distinct company with its own assets. It is also called a special purpose entity (SPE). The SPV is a subsidiary created by a parent company to isolate financial risk. Should the project advance to construction, the SPV will continue to operate for the duration of the wind farm’s life.

It is likely that the development team will be based in stand-alone offices to manage confidentiality. This is important particularly if the project is a joint venture between two or more developers. The SPV provides a structure to enable external investment. This investment is most likely to take place at final investment decision (FID)

In the UK, the SPV manages the design of the wind farm and secures consent for the wind farm and transmission assets.

Scoping Report

An early formal step in the consenting process is the production of a scoping report. The purpose of which is to assess the level of impact on various areas. This in turn focuses the environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the effects of the development.

Ideally planning consent is sought with as much design flexibility as possible. If it is too restrictive, e.g. a particular turbine size or foundation is specified, this may prove problematical at the point of procurement. This may then require variations to the consent order which will incur delays and cost.

However, if too much design flexibility is incorporated, the environmental impacts become less certain, which may be deemed undesirable by the consenting authorities.

Environmental Impact Assessments

Developers need to undertake an EIA, which describes the potential impacts with regards to a wide range of environmental factors. Including:

  • Wildlife – mammal, birds, fish, flora and fauna both inland and offshore
  • Local economy – fishing, other sea users, farmland
  • Navigation – impact on local ports
  • Etc.

Most offshore wind developers have an in-house development management team, who outsource specialist work. Specialist suppliers will often second employees into the developer’s team for the duration of the development phase.

Developers are obliged to seek the views of a number of statutory consultees. These include:

  • Government authorities,
  • Local authorities
  • Those that have an interest in the land affected.
  • Non-statutory consultees with specific interests in the development are also likely to be consulted (such as RSPB).
  • Local communities

Developers will seek the views of local communities by holding a series of public information and consultation events.

To find out more about the Rampion Windfarm project, join one of the trips aboard Defiance.