With the European Championship football tournament in full swing, Scotland and Norway appear to be engaged in a private green energy contest of their own – who can net the most star players for their offshore wind tender?
The two northern nations – which share a fame for stunning scenery and North Sea oil & gas – will within the next year both have debut auctions well underway to award new seabed leases for both fixed-bottom and floating wind power, and the list of big names lining up grows weekly.
On the Norwegian side this week we saw BP throw its hat into the ring in an alliance with local power group Statkraft and Aker Offshore Wind, soon followed by fellow supermajor Shell which formed a pact of its own with two Norwegian utilities.
BP and Shell joined a list of contenders for a share of the 4.5GW on offer from Oslo, including local champion Equinor, fellow oil player Eni, Norway-based green energy specialist Fred Olsen Renewables and power giant RWE.
Not to be outdone, Scotland recruited a heavyweight of its own in the form of TotalEnergies, the newly-rebranded oil & gas giant that has become a major offshore wind player, and confirmed it will enter the up-to-10GW ScotWind tender with Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and RIDG.
One name that will take the field in both is Orsted, the global fixed-bottom offshore wind pacesetter and late convert to floating wind that sees big potential off both nations.
The Danish group’s European head Rasmus Errboe in an exclusive interview with Recharge explained why Orsted believes now is the right time to embrace floating, and how it fits into its wider agenda.
As a core part of the global drive towards sustainability and away from climate disaster, the renewable energy industry is held to higher standards than most – and usually it passes the test.
However, the sight of used turbine blades piling up as landfill is a blot on its copybook, and one that could get worse as more early turbines end their useful lives, prompting the European wind sector to call for a ban on dumping by the end of 2025.
Industry body WindEurope insists that deadline is reachable, and that a legal ban would help accelerate the type of technology-driven efforts to solve the problem announced recently by turbine-makers Vestas and GE Renewable Energy.
In an exclusive opinion article for Recharge, Vestas head of sustainability Lisa Ekstrand argued that a landfill ban, while welcome, is just the start of the industry’s journey towards the bigger prize of full ‘circularity’ in which used materials find a new purpose in the next generation of wind products.
This year’s Global Wind Day on 15 June had an added resonance, given the fast-approaching COP26 climate summit that many believe is a make-or-break moment for the planet’s future.
The wind industry marked the day by launching coalition of its biggest names calling for a ramp up in deployment that matches the huge level of ambition the International Energy Agency and others now accept is needed.
For anyone tempted to claim that as self-interest at work, consider the stark message of a REN21 think-tank report this week, which found that despite the massive wind and solar build-out of the last decade, the share of fossil fuels in the total global energy mix remains almost unscathed at 80%.