By August 2, 2017 0 Comments Read More →

European oil majors invest in US offshore wind energy

US offshore wind

Former President Barack Obama insisted the renewable energy revolution, including US offshore wind energy production, was irreversible.  President Trump, however, heavily favours fossil fuels. OffShoreWind.biz photo.

US offshore wind arena less crowded than Europe

A number of European oil majors are moving into the US offshore wind market, bringing with them experience in deepwater development and leaving behind the crowded offshore wind industry at home.

Statoil, Norway’s national oil company, won a license to develop a wind farm off the coast of New York state.  The company is also marketing a new floating turbine technology to California and Hawaii and some of the company’s current oil and gas staff are being shifted to its wind division.

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Eldar Sætre, CEO of Statoil, says his company will gradually work towards profitable renewable energy projects and low-carbon solutions.

“A low carbon footprint from operations will increasingly be a competitive advantage,”  said Sætre.

Shell put in a bid for an offshore lease located off North Carolina earlier in the year and DONG Energy of Denmark has partnered with Dominion Energy in an offshore wind project off the Virginia coast.

The Dominion Energy/DONG Energy project is only the second offshore wind project in the US and the first owned by an energy company.

“While we have faced many technological challenges and even more doubters as we advanced this project, we have been steadfast in our commitment to our customers and the communities we serve,” said Thomas F. Farrell, II, Dominion Energy CEO.

Late last year, offshore wind generation began in the United States, ironically, just after the election of President Donald Trump.

Trump, a climate change skeptic who heavily favours fossil fuels over renewable energy, battled against an offshore wind farm near his Scottish golf resort prior to his election.

A number of federal seabed leases were awarded before Trump took office.  More are planned, but investment in the costly endeavors is one of the biggest obstacles companies face.

“Undeniably, offshore wind is a big boys’ game because it requires large amounts of capital because scale is such an important cost driver,” Samuel Leupold chief executive of DONG Energy’s offshore wind business told Reuters.

Along with high capital costs, renewable energy companies in the United States are dealing with an administration that is determined to make the US energy independent by increasing fossil fuel use.

In March, President Trump signed an executive order that rolled back former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that required states to cut carbon emissions from power plants.

Currently, there is no carbon price mechanism in the US like there are in Europe, but some local regulations have been enacted.

DONG Energy recently secured a seabed license in Massachusetts where a state law requires its utilities to buy up to 1.6 GW of offshore wind power by June 2027.

Thomas Bostrom, DONG’s North American wind power president says his company will bid on the Massachusetts power purchase tender coming up in December.  Despite his optimism, Bostrom told Reuters “As excited as we are for offshore wind in the U.S., we are still in the early days of the industry.”

Washington estimates offshore wind energy to have a potential of 2,000 gigawatts (GW), substantially higher than Europe’s 25 GW by 2020.

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