Norwegian energy group Equinor aims to have up to 16GW of renewable capacity installed by 2035 as it pursues ambitions to become a “global offshore wind major”.

Equinor, the world’s largest offshore oil & gas operator, said the target range of 12-16GW by that date is “dependent on attractive project opportunities” to grow a sea-based wind portfolio that already spans the UK, US and Poland.

The energy group, majority-owned by the Norwegian government, expects to expand its current renewables asset base ten-fold to have 4-6GW in operation by 2026, “mainly based on the current project portfolio”.

That portfolio includes the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, the 3.6GW Dogger Bank, which Equinor is building off eastern England in conjunction with SSE, and the up-to-1.5GW Empire Wind off New York.

“Today we are setting new short-, mid- and long-term ambitions to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions and to shape our portfolio in line with the Paris Agreement,” said Equnior CEO Eldar Sætre. “It is a good business strategy to ensure competitiveness and drive change towards a low carbon future."

Equinor’s newly announced build-out ambitions compare closely with those of the global offshore wind pacesetter, Orsted, which currently has a 2025 target of 15GW installed.

Floating wind power is also seen by Equinor – which brought on the world's first floating array, Hywind Scotland, in 2017 – as presenting further opportunities, particularly in Asia.

Equinor announced the renewable energy target as part of wider ambitions to reduce by at least 50% the net carbon intensity of its energy from production to consumption by 2050, with carbon-neutral global operations by 2030.

Sætre said: “We are now looking 30 years into the future, and it is not possible to predict an exact shape and pace of the transition. Not for society and not for us.

“But we know there will have to be significant changes in the energy markets, and our portfolio will change accordingly to remain competitive.

“We will produce less oil in a low carbon future, but value creation from oil and gas will still be high, and renewables give significant new opportunities to create attractive returns and growth.”

Equinor said last month is was striving for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from its domestic offshore oil and gas field operations and onshore plants in Norway by 40% by 2030 when compared to 2005 levels, by 70% by 2040, and to ‘near zero’ by 2050.

But these targets do not cover its vast oil & gas exploration operations outside Norway, nor emissions from the actual use of using fossil fuels in transport, heating or industry.