A drive to build more floating wind farms has been announced, with Scottish waters likely to see further testing and development of the seabound technologies.

The Crown Estate is to free up more sites off the coast of Britain to the renewables industry to accelerate the development of the latest equipment, including floating platforms.

It is calling on the industry to propose sites for exploration projects, with the Crown Estate already leasing large sections of the Scottish seabed to renewables firms.

Construction could begin as early as 2017 and it is expected to take around nine months to whittle down and select the successful proposals. The renewables lobby said the development represents a "once in a lifetime" opportunity for manufacturers.

Successful projects will include arrays of up to 15 machines, utilising floating foundations and producing less than 100MW.

The technologies involved must not have been previously deployed commercially and the projects must be used solely for test and demonstration purposes.

It is unknown how many more sites will be leased to green developers and where the facilities will be located, as it will depend on whose applications are approved.

The Crown Office is also inviting applications for off-grid projects which will allow the test and demonstration of aspects of the offshore development process, such as foundation testing, cable laying and operations and maintenance procedures.

By leasing specific sites for projects which do not involve a grid connection and a turbine, sites can be smaller, cheaper and more likely to gain consent.

Martin Simpson, head of energy and technology at the Crown Estate, said: "To unlock sustained growth in offshore wind we have to demonstrate that technological advancements can drive down costs.

"This new leasing programme is opening the doors for testing and demonstration of new technology across the spectrum – from turbines to foundations and cables – thus cementing the UK as the best place for investments in supply-chain and commercial projects. Floating wind is included because of its potential."

Last year, the Crown Estate earned £3.5 million from renewable energy on its marine estate, which comprises almost all of the seabed surrounding Britain to a distance of 12 nautical miles offshore.

To date, 10GW of offshore wind have been earmarked for development in Scottish waters, including nine sites within Crown Estate territory, as well as two large zones in the Forth and Moray Firths which are also owned by the Crown.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: "If we don't seize it, the large-scale offshore wind supply chain factories of the future, making the enormous blades, towers and foundations that we'll need to retain the UK's global lead in offshore wind, will be sited elsewhere. The potential to create tens of thousands of green-collar manufacturing jobs hangs in the balance."

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing will announce at a major renewables conference in Manchester today that the Scottish Government is introducing two types of financial support to help boost Scotland's offshore wind industry.

One is to support generation from offshore test and demonstration sites deploying innovative, new-to-market turbines, while the second will support pilot projects consisting of non-fixed generation – including floating turbines.