Denmark’s Dong Energy and UK-based Centrica are aiming to become big players in the Irish Sea  offshore wind sector by teaming up for a third licensing round.

Together Centrica and Dong have agreed to form a new joint venture to develop up to 4.2 Gigawatts of potential generating capacity in the Round 3 Irish Sea zone.

Dong is to pay Centrica £40 million for a 50% stake in Centrica’s existing subsidiary company Centrica Energy Renewable Investments which was set up specifically to own and manage assets in the Round 3 Irish Sea Zone – is part of the UK Crown Estate’s Round 3 offshore wind tendering round.

Dong Energy is to pay £15 million in cash to acquire the 50% equity in Centrica Energy Renewable Investments – which will be renamed Celtic Array Limited on completion of the deal. And the rest of the balance is due in following years once consents for new offshore wind farms are granted in the region.

Centrica and Dong Energy are already partners in the Barrow and Lincs offshore wind farms, and the new deal will see construction management of new offshore wind sites in the Round 3 Irish Sea zone shared alternately between the two companies.

“Creating this joint venture with DONG Energy is a logical step that will combine both companies’ expertise and scale to help realise the full potential of the zone,” stated Centrica Energy managing director Mark Hanafin.

And Carsten Krogsgaard Thomsen, acting chief executive of Dong Energy who recently replaced Anders Eldrup, added: “This marks Dong Energy’s second entry into a Round 3 project and Centrica is a natural partner for us as we already have a good working relationship with them from previous project.”

Thomsen also talks of “industrialisation” of the offshore wind business as part of a process to reduce development costs.