BP considering repowering 400MW of US wind: report

UK oil giant BP is considering repowering up to 400MW of its 2.3GW of operating US wind capacity to take advantage of the now-dwindling production tax credit, Bloomberg reports.

In an interview, Laura Folse, the Houston-based chief executive of BP Wind Energy, says the company safe-harboured enough equipment in 2016 to qualify as many as 200MW of repowered turbines for the full PTC, whose value fell to 80% on 1 January for new projects.

Having failed to sell its US wind business in 2013, BP was known last year to be looking at ways to take advantage of the 100% PTC, with its options including repowering parts of its existing portfolio of 14 wind farms or perhaps investing in new projects.

It seems to have decided on the former option. A decision on whether – and how much – to repower could come by mid-year, Folse told Bloomberg.  

Folse did not reveal which turbine maker BP would turn to, although repowering is expected to represent a growing piece of business for all the major suppliers as the US wind fleet ages. Vestas recently secured its first US repowering order for an unnamed client.

BP claims to own the largest renewables business of any major international oil and gas company, but the company has not brought a new wind farm online since 2012.

In the meantime, rivals including Total, and Royal Dutch Shell have made large investments into renewables, with Shell saying it expects its recent high-profile forays into offshore wind to be followed up – including, perhaps, in the US, where it recently qualified to participate in an upcoming offshore wind tender off North Carolina.

BP sold its decades-old solar business earlier this decade and has been hesitant to invest more money in wind. But like many of its rivals, it has acknowledged that the energy picture is changing, admitting in its most recent energy outlook that its previous forecasts for renewables were too timid.