The Crown Estate has identified five broad “areas of search” for developing the innovative technology in the Celtic Sea, which sits south of Ireland and west of England and France.
The plan is that these areas will deliver four gigawatts of floating offshore wind power by 2035 — providing power to almost 4 million homes.
Research commissioned by the Crown Estate suggests a further 20 gigawatts of floating offshore wind capacity could be established in the Celtic Sea by 2045.
“The Celtic Sea has the potential to become one of the great renewable energy basins of the world, bringing economic growth and abundant clean power,” said Huub den Rooijen, managing director marine at the Crown Estate.
“This leasing round is a first step, and we need to work together to bring technology costs down, deliver environmentally sound solutions and respect the needs of the many other users of the marine space.”
Floating wind farms can be deployed in deeper water with higher wind than conventional offshore wind farms.
The five areas have not been made public. The Crown Estate said each was rich in natural resources, including wind, and all were identified after a technical analysis.
They will be refined into small project development areas within which the first generation of commercial-scale floating wind farms could be built, and which will be open for competitive tender in mid-2023.
With the country's crumbling nuclear and coal power plants threatening to lead to an energy shortfall in the coming years, advocates say wind energy can be the centrepiece of the UK's efforts to become a global leader in renewables.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “We already have the largest offshore wind deployment in Europe. Floating technology is key to unlocking the full potential of our coastline.
“We want to deliver up to 5 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2030. These projects can help power millions of homes with clean and cheaper renewable energy, reducing reliance on expensive fossil fuels.”
As the UK government throws its weight behind renewables, it also has targets as part of the drive to reach net zero.
The government wants 27,000 employees in the wind energy sector and a third of the country's power generated by wind turbines by 2030. Offshore wind sites meet 7 per cent of the UK's energy needs — a far cry from the 2030 goal.
By 2030, the global market is predicted to be worth £30 billion ($36.3bn).
Wind power is among a small group of energy-generating options that have a limited impact on the environment. Generally, offshore farms are preferable because wind speeds there are higher and consistent.