When does an oil & gas giant become a renewable energy company? The answer in the case of all the world’s major fossil groups is “not yet”, but as the last week proved, Norway's Equinor at least is now undeniably a force to be reckoned with in global green energy, even if the bulk of its operations remain tied to hydrocarbons.
The Norwegian group is building powerful positions in key markets – the UK, the US and latterly Poland, where it secured a contract-for-difference (CfD) deal for almost 1.5GW of offshore wind in conjunction with local partner Polenergia.
Equinor renewables chief Pål Eitrheim explained the group’s ‘clusters’ strategy in an exclusive interview with Recharge, as he outlined the unique advantages of the European nation in terms of offshore wind development. Poland is not just a wind target for Equinor – it this week swooped for the 1.6GW PV pipeline of local developer Wento.
Eitrheim also underlined to Recharge the huge potential Equinor sees in floating wind – where it has been a global pioneer – with praise for France’s upcoming tender, which has now officially launched, and a call for the sector to scale up as soon as possible.
That enthusiasm for fast-emerging floating markets was on display this week when Equinor confirmed it will join Eni for a bid in Norway’s pioneering offshore wind tender, and welcomed a milestone at the Donghae 1 project in South Korea where it is also a partner.
Equinor was far from the only floating wind player on the Recharge homepage this week, as the offshore generation source continued to astonish with its race up the renewable agenda.
The potential of floating wind to provide contracts and jobs in local markets was in focus as developer Simply Blue Energy revealed it is in talks with Chevron-backed Ocergy over the potential to equip the 200MW Salamander project planned off Scotland.
Recharge in April was first to reveal that Chevron Technology Ventures, a unit of the oil & gas supermajor, had joined Norwegian industrial group Moreld to help advance Ocergy’s OCG-Wind concept to prototype stage.
We also reported this week how the part-scale prototype of floating wind pioneer X1Wind’s PivotBuoy concept is afloat off the Spanish island of Gran Canaria awaiting installation in the Atlantic Ocean, as plans for development of a first full-size array using the next-generation design take shape.
Floating wind is spurring technical innovation beyond the turbine platforms themselves. Siemens Energy said it will supply grid stabilisation technology to the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) ahead of deployment of the 1.4GW Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint project that will see floating wind replace a major coal-fired plant.
A pandemic, rocketing steel prices, logistical jigsaw puzzles and the Suez Canal blockage – it wasn’t exactly a straightforward first quarter for wind giant Vestas (or, to be fair, anyone else in the business of making large engineered products and shipping them around the world).
The Danish OEM's executive team gave a flavour of the issues the company faced as it discussed details of a loss-making start to the year that also saw orders well down on the same stage in 2020 – although CEO Henrik Andersen was adamant that it can make up the ground over the rest of the year.
Andersen in an interview with Recharge insisted that the current cost pressures in the market shouldn’t be seen as a sign that wind is losing its competitiveness in the energy transition, pointing to a decade-long track record of technology-led power price reduction.
There have already been encouraging signs in the second quarter for Vestas of an updraft on the orders front, with big deals in Finland for a project that will sell its power to Google, and in Brazil where its V150 turbine continued its local success story.