Norway’s Equinor has signed lease extensions for two offshore wind farms in the UK, the Sheringham Shoal and the Dudgeon, securing an area of seabed of approximately 196 km2 in total to further develop existing wind farm areas, with the aim to double the area’s electricity generation capacity.
The extensions are part of The Crown Estate’s 2017 Offshore Wind Extensions opportunity – which aims to unlock additional capacity in the UK offshore wind portfolio by extending existing offshore wind farms.
In 2019, both proposals progressed through the plan level Habitats Regulations Assessment stage (HRA), which assesses the possible impact of the proposed windfarm extensions on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance.
Now, both of Equinor’s proposed wind farm extensions have officially signed an Agreement for Lease, securing an area of seabed of approximately 196 km2 in total.
Equinor currently operates two wind farms off the Norfolk Coast, Dudgeon, and Sheringham Shoal, which together generate enough electricity to power around 750,000 UK homes.
Equinor is developing plans to extend both sites, doubling the total capacity from its Norfolk operations to over 1400 MW, enough to power over 1.5 million homes.
Important Step Towards Net Zero Goal
Kari Hege Mørk, project manager at Equinor, said: “In support of its Net Zero ambitions, the UK Government has set a target to increase offshore wind capacity to 40GW by 2030, around four times what we currently have. The Extension Projects will make an important contribution to the UK’s decarbonization goals, along with providing benefits to local communities through local jobs and economic opportunities.
“With good wind conditions, a short distance to shore, and a location next to our existing wind farms, the two areas are perfectly suited to build on our offshore wind portfolio. This is a significant milestone as we develop these new wind farms, which will double our capacity for generating offshore wind in Norfolk.”
Although these are two separate offshore wind farm extension projects, Equinor says it has adopted a strategic approach and is developing the projects jointly to minimize local impacts.
As such the company will apply for a common Development Consent Order for the Extension Projects and is consulting on both projects together. “We’ve just finished the first phase of our community consultation, which ran from 9 July to 20 August,” Mørk said. “Due to Covid-19 unfortunately we weren’t able to hold face to face events as we would have liked to, so instead we hosted a virtual exhibition platform with all the relevant information, and plenty of ways to get in touch. We had a really great engagement, with over 1600 people visiting the online platform during the consultation period. This feedback from the community is really important as we develop our plans.”
The existing Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm is owned by Equinor, Green Investment Group, and Equitix through joint-venture company Scira Offshore Energy Limited, and Equinor is the operator of the wind farm. It was commissioned in 2012 and has a generating capability of 317MW from its 88 wind turbine generators of 3.6MW capacity.
The Sheringham Shoal shareholders have signed an agreement to allow Equinor to fully develop Sheringham Shoal Extension. Equinor is currently the sole owner of the project, with the partners retaining the right to re-enter the project during the construction phase.
Through the joint venture company Dudgeon Offshore Wind Limited, Dudgeon wind farm is owned by Equinor, Masdar and China Resources Power. It was completed in late 2017, and is capable of generating 402MW of electricity from its 67 wind turbine generators (6MW).
The Agreements for Lease (AfL) for Dudgeon Extension was signed in April 2020 and the AfL for Sheringham Shoal Extension was signed in August 2020
Unlike the Sheringham Shoal Extension, owned solely by Equinor, the Dudgeon Extension is owned jointly by Equinor, Masdar and China Resources Power.
Equinor, Norway’s largest oil producer, has been working hard to reinvent itself and diversify from an oil and gas company to a broader energy company, with plans to become one of the world’s largest offshore wind developers.
Just in the UK, Equinor is now involved in eight offshore wind projects, with three operational wind farms: Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, and 30MW Pilot floating wind project Hywind Scotland.
Apart from the three wind farms in operations, and two extensions mentioned earlier, Equinor is also set to build what has been dubbed the world’s largest wind farm – the 3.6 GW
Watch the recording of World Energy Report’s Offshore Wind Webinar “Outlook for Offshore Wind Power: The Frontier of Future Energy.”