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'We'll be back stronger in US after New Jersey loss': Equinor chief

New Energies boss says state tender shows 'fiercely competitive' nature of US offshore wind market

Equinor will “be back stronger” in future US offshore wind tenders after losing out in the first allocation by the state of New Jersey, said the head of the Norwegian energy group’s renewables arm.

“This outcome illustrates that this is a fiercely competitive market. That’s my expectation for the whole Eastern Seaboard,” New Energy Solutions executive vice president Pål Eitrheim told Recharge.

Orsted sweeps lead-off 1.1GW New Jersey offshore wind round

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Equinor and a consortium of EDF and Shell were left empty handed after Orsted scooped the entire 1.1GW available under New Jersey’s initial tender, the result of which was announced last week. However, commissioners on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) stressed that they thought long and hard before giving the entire allocation to a single bidder, and asked the competitors to return for future rounds as the state pursues its overall 3.5GW ambition.

Eitrheim said: “I wasn’t discouraged by losing – we got very valuable experience. Well done to them [Orsted]. You’re going to win a few and lose a few. We’ll be back stronger in other auctions to come.”

Equinor is also one of the contenders for New York’s first offshore wind tender, which will allocate around 800MW or more, the result of which is expected imminently. “The East Coast of the US is going to remain important to us.”

Eitrheim, who spoke to Recharge at the Global Offshore Wind event in London, said global market leader the UK has the chance to seize a leadership position in the fast-emerging floating wind sector, where the Norwegian group is a pioneer.

“It is up to the UK whether it wants to capture that potential or not,” Eitrheim said. “There are clearly areas offshore UK that are suitable for floating.

"What I don’t need are more pilots or demonstration projects."

“What I don’t need are more pilots or demonstration projects. I need floating at scale,” said the Equinor executive, who added that if it wants to achieve that, future UK support or leasing policy will have to accommodate the fact that floating wind is further back down the maturity path than fixed-bottom offshore wind.

“There needs to be some sort of mechanism-slash-framework to get floating into the mix,” allowing the emerging offshore sector to prove its cost-reduction potential through large-scale deployment.

Eitrheim declined to comment on the UK contract-for-difference renewables auction currently underway, citing confidentiality.

Equinor is developing 3.6GW at the giant Dogger Bank offshore wind zone in conjunction with UK utility SSE.

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