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The area of ocean on the UK Continental Shelf off the coast of Wales and the South West of England referred to as the Southwest Approaches has recently been identified by The Crown Estate for a new leasing opportunity for the first generation of commercial-scale floating offshore windfarms (FLOW). It is considered to be a particularly high energy and challenging setting: exposed to substantial wave energy; deep water; strong prevailing wind direction; and a complex seabed.

An early understanding of the offshore site characteristics in terms of the metocean conditions for prospective (i.e. pre-lease award) sites within the FLOW area is critical to a risk-based assessment of site feasibility. Early insight can help to reduce uncertainty in: extreme conditions, design load calculations, defining requirements for the collection of in situ measurement data, assessing the viability of mooring options and anchorages, and providing an indication of available construction-phase and operational weather windows. As efforts continue to reduce the cost of energy, and the floating wind sub-sector is set to boom, an early understanding of metocean conditions and associated project risks for proposed development sites has never been greater.

To contribute to this understanding, Partrac have developed OCEAN.DAT, a product that we are making available to all potential FLOW developers and marine contractors interested in The Crown Estate’s upcoming Celtic Sea floating wind tender round. It is a comprehensive, integrated GIS and database product comprising over 100 parameter map layers and over 500 metocean hindcast timeseries datasets across the Celtic Sea Region. It enables users to obtain an initial high-resolution (<5 km grid) understanding of extreme and operational metocean conditions, including wind (at 10 m above sea-level), across regional and subregional (project development area) scales.

In addition, it provides access to information on other spatially and temporally varying phenomena such as nearbed ocean processes and the seabed environment, including sediment composition and seabed mobility.

The map layers and time-series datasets of metocean conditions comprise 40-year hindcast modelling of wind, wave, current and water level parameters (these layers and datasets are available for purchase individually or in bundles). OCEAN.DAT has been comprehensively verified using in situ measurement data sources, and model performance (assessed against industry standards) is judged to be very good.

Matt Wright, Associate Director at Partrac stated: “We have developed OCEAN.DAT to be a product that we are offering to all potential Celtic Sea FLOW developers, to assist them in their early-stage site selection, characterisation and engineering feasibility assessments of potential development sites in the region. The high resolution hindcast modelling, validated and verified against measured data from within the [Celtic Sea] model domain, and the subsequent production of hindcast data, extreme statistics, and spatial layers that are presented within the product are normally only commissioned and prepared for individual developers, via bespoke studies, that cost on the order of tens of thousands of pounds. By offering OCEAN.DAT to all potential FLOW developers we are able to provide a very competitively priced atlas and database of metocean and seabed conditions, that we consider will be invaluable for site selection and feasibility”.

For further information about OCEAN.DAT and details of the various spatial and hindcast datasets available please contact Matt Wright (matt.wright@partrac.com).