The week ended with another of those big bang moments in the fast-expanding universe of floating wind power when Scotland unveiled the winners of its INTOG seabed leasing round dominated by plans to decarbonise offshore oil & gas production.
The runaway winners were Cerulean Winds and the alliance of Flotation Energy and Vargronn, which can now advance plans to help shift green power to North Sea fossil assets under pre-lease exclusivity offers from the Crown Estate Scotland – barely a year after it set the floating sector alight with its giant ScotWind round.
The two development teams are bullish about their prospects to help achieve that ambition, but as one leading analyst told Recharge, the challenges involve mean electrifying offshore oil & gas is “not for the faint hearted”.
And there was little sympathy for the whole process from climate campaigners who judged the entire exercise little more than ‘greenwashing’ that “tinkers around the edges” of North Sea emissions reduction.
Meanwhile, beyond Scotland the floating wind bandwagon rolled on with gigascale plans off Italy, a new partnership for Simply Blue and Subsea7 off Australia, and plans by sector pioneer BW Ideol to spin off a development company for upcoming project construction.
The prospects of Chinese wind OEMs in international markets loomed large in Recharge’s reporting all week, not least when RWE CEO Markus Krebber warned the EU that the Asian giant’s offshore turbines might be the only game in town unless action was taken to spur the European supply chain.
The theme continued with news that fast-emerging Chinese player Windey has been lined up for a huge project in Serbia, and then with the emergence of Goldwind atop BloombergNEF’s wind rankings – the first time a Chinese player has taken number-one spot.
Proof that China’s turbine makers are these days about more than commodity machines at low prices came when Mingyang unveiled a large-scale blade fabricated almost entirely from recycled materials, the first such model in Asia.
Security of supply has stolen most of the energy policy thunder since Russia invaded Ukraine, but the climate emergency came roaring back this week as the UN secretary general called on nations to speed up their net zero drives by 10 years to get the world’s emissions fight back on track.
The good news came from the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) think-tank that there are no “fundamental barriers” to getting to net zero by 2050 – just the small matter of a $110 trillion investment bill.
And confirmation that renewables are doing their bit came with news from the International Renewable Energy Agency of a near 10% expansion in green power facilities in 2022, despite the economic pressures linked to the global energy crisis.