Statkraft buys into Sheringham Shoal wind farm

Norwegian power giant Statkraft has become an equal partner in the UK’s 315-megawatt Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, by buying 50%of the project from StatoilHydro, which previously held 100%.

Sheringham Shoal will be the largest and most important wind project in either company’s stable, with the total investment now estimated at NOK 10bn ($1.5bn). The wind farm is expected to produce around 1.1 terrawatt hours (TWh) of electricity each year, or enough to power 220,000 UK homes.

State-owned Statkraft is Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy through its vast hydroelectric portfolio. Though the firm already has dabbled in onshore wind, “this partnership with StatoilHydro will take us into the offshore wind industry as well”, says chief executive Baard Mikkelsen.

The 88-turbine Sheringham Shoal wind farm, part of the UK’s ‘Round 2’ of offshore leasing, will cover an area equivalent to 35 sq kilometres off the coast of northern Norfolk in eastern England.

Construction on the project is set to begin this summer, with a gradual start-up of electricity production scheduled for 2011. Sheringham Shoal has already received all the approvals it needs for construction and operation, the companies say.

“Gradually developing a stronger position within renewable energy is part of StatoilHydro’s long-term strategy,” says the firm’s chief executive Helge Lund. “Sheringham Shoal is a good commercial project that demonstrates our determination and capacity in this context.”

StatoilHydro and Statkraft are both members of the Forewind consortium, which was announced in late February. Forewind, which also includes npower renewables and Scottish and Southern Energy-owned Airtricity, made a joint bid for zones to develop wind farms as part of the UK’s Round 3.