Equinor and Vårgrønn, a joint venture (JV) between Eni and HitecVision, have signed a collaboration agreement to jointly apply for offshore wind acreage in Norway at one of the two areas the country opened last year.
The partners said they would jointly prepare and submit an application to the Norwegian authorities to develop floating offshore wind in the Utsira Nord area, which the government deemed most suited for floating wind, saying this was the most interesting technology from a Norwegian perspective.
Utsira Nord is located west of Utsira and Haugalandet in the Norwegian North Sea. The area spans 1,010 square kilometres and, according to the government, it is close to shore and provides opportunities for both demonstration and large projects. As for the new partnership’s plans, it looks like the latter is on the table.
“A floating offshore wind farm at Utsira Nord could be the next project at scale to drive industrialisation of floating offshore wind and create new opportunities for Norwegian industry”, said executive vice president for New Energy Solutions in Equinor, Pål Eitrheim. “As the leading floating offshore wind developer Equinor has the experience and capabilities necessary to develop the next full-scale floating offshore wind farm in Norway after Hywind Tampen”.
The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy opened the two areas – Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II – in June 2020 and launched a pre-application period this January, when the country’s Regulation to the Offshore Energy Act entered into force. The areas are said to jointly have a development capacity of 4.5 GW.
The authorities are currently working on the licensing process for the offshore wind projects.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said in February that it would consider offshore wind projects when the overarching framework for the work on offshore wind power is further clarified. The Ministry will further provide clear guidance in due time, specifically, when it becomes relevant to start the consideration of applications for licenses in the opened areas.
“It will thus be possible for all interested parties to provide notice of their interest in the areas considered for development. This will occur after further guidance is provided by the Ministry. It is important for the Ministry to obtain the most complete overview possible of relevant projects”, the Ministry stated in February.
The oil majors Equinor and Eni have already been a part of the offshore wind sector for a while now, with Equinor being the developer of the world’s first (Hywind Scotland) and currently the largest (Hywind Tampen) floating wind farms.
Equinor and Eni are also partners in the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, currently under construction in the North Sea, which, once completed, will be the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.