Atlantic Array data made public

The UK Crown Estate has published extensive seabed data from the former Atlantic Array offshore zone, where Germany’s RWE abandoned plans for a 1.2GW wind farm last year.

The information was published on the Crown Estate's online Marine Data Exchange. This is the first time data from the UK’s Round 3 offshore wind leasing programme has been made available in this way.

It includes bird and mammal surveys; shipping, navigation and archaeological data; and geotechnical and geophysical data and sediment sampling.

The Crown Estate says these studies can take a long time and be expensive to carry out. For example, marine bird studies, an essential part of planning to ensure natural habitats are not affected by offshore developments, can take around three years.

“As manager of the UK seabed, we are harnessing the power of open data to help build a picture of this natural resource for different marine users,” says Dermot Grimson, the organisation's head of strategy and policy.

“By making information freely available through the Marine Data Exchange, we can help stimulate research, support academia and contribute towards the long-term sustainable development of the seabed.”

The Crown Estate recognises the potential benefits of capturing and sharing data coming out of industries such as wind, wave and tidal energy. A "data clause" has been included in offshore leases to improve its understanding of the seabed.

RWE scrapped plans for the Atlantic Array in the Bristol Channel last November, blaming the relatively deep water and adverse seabed conditions, claiming the technical challenges made the project economically prohibitive “in current market conditions”.

Concerns have been voiced at the economic implications of the shelving of three major wind projects off the west coast of Britain – Atlantic Array, SSE’s 700MW Islay Array, and Dong Energy and Centrica’s 4.2GW Celtic Array joint venture.