Plans to build 10 wind farms off the coast of Scotland moved a step forward after the Crown Estate gave companies the green light to explore the sites.
Scottish Power and E.ON are among the nine firms to be awarded “exclusivity agreements” for locations which include the Solway Firth and Wigtown Bay.
This will allow developers to begin surveying the sites while a government environmental assessment is conducted.
The wind farms have the potential to generate 6GW of power if approved.
Rob Hastings, director of the Marine Estate at the Crown Estate, said the deals were good news for Scotland.
He said: “We very much look forward to working with the companies on the development of these sites and the realisation of the enormous potential that these sites have to offer.”