USD 30 Billion North Atlantic Offshore Wind Project Launches

Anglo-American joint venture Hecate Independent Power Limited (HIP) has launched its HIP Atlantic Project for installing 10,000 MW of fixed and floating wind turbines in the North Atlantic connected to the UK grid.

Siemens Gamesa/Illustration

The long-length, high-capacity, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission cables which will connect the wind farms to the UK grid are to be manufactured in the United Kingdom at a GBP 200 million bespoke power cable plant to be built at a port in the northeast of England, HIP said

The total project cost is estimated at GBP 21 billion (USD 30 billion).

HIP has lodged four connection applications with National Grid Company for an initial 4,000 MW of grid connections to the United Kingdom’s 400 kV electricity transmission system across four connection sites.

Each wind farm – or pod – will be in a different North Atlantic location, and each pod consisting of 1,000 MW of wind turbines will have its own dedicated cable linked to the UK. Full dispatch of the HIP offshore wind pods will be under the exclusive control of the UK electricity system operator making HIP Atlantic Britain’s first captive wind farm in overseas territorial waters, HIP said.

First Wind Farms to Be Built Off Iceland

HIP Atlantic’s initial 2,000 MW of generation capacity, targeted to be off the southern and eastern coasts of Iceland, is expected to be commissioned in early 2025 to coincide with the United Kingdom’s de-commissioning of its last coal-fired power plants and the last of its original generation of commercial nuclear power plants.

The HIP Atlantic HVDC transmission cables will never connect to the Icelandic transmission system. The high availability wind capacity will be solely connected to the UK, dispatched by National Grid.

Iceland will be a significant beneficiary of HIP Atlantic’s investment programme in offshore wind, the developer said. The initial Icelandic investment for the first 2,000 MW pilot phase of the project is expected to be GBP 2.9 million in 2021, rising to an additional GBP 144 million through 2025. Up to 500 new jobs located in southern and eastern Iceland are associated with just the 2,000 MW pilot phase.

UK Content

HIP’s planned offshore wind pods in the North Atlantic will all be installed in a different meteorological catchment area from current North Sea and Irish Sea wind farms and so HIP renewable electricity can be supplied at times when existing British wind farms are becalmed, HIP said. This diversity of wind source provides a geographical portfolio effect to protect the UK transmission grid from too much offshore wind capacity installed in just one region.

HIP Atlantic aims to maximise the British manufactured content in every element of its equipment manufacturing and installation process. The initial 2,000 MW capacity alone is expected to result in some 15,000 new jobs in the United Kingdom.

“HIP Atlantic fulfils the Prime Minister’s vision of attracting investment and job creation in the North of England as part of this country’s ambitious policy to make Britain the world leader in offshore wind energy,” HIP’s Chairman, Sir Tony Baldry, said.

”We will stretch the zone of British-operated wind generation outside of our traditional territorial waters, pushing the boundaries of existing cable technology to generate over 1,000 kms from our grid landfall points throughout England.”

Current Developments

HIP Atlantic is currently finalising an institutional investment of ordinary equity capital into a project SPV to develop its first two 1,000 MW fixed-bottom offshore wind projects.

Separately, HIP Atlantic is working with investment partners for a new HVDC cable manufacturing facility with room for expansion and with an associated deep water berth for loading cable laying vessels in excess of 275 metres in length.

HIP Atlantic is also working with a group of ship owners to modify existing vessels capable of laying the long lengths of HVDC cable required to connect wind turbine capacity to the United Kingdom at connection points on the 400 kV transmission system which have been agreed with National Grid Company. These will be the largest dedicated power cable vessels in operation in the world today that will be largely operated by British crews, the developer said.

HIP said that the approach of using dedicated, UK-based HVDC cable laying ships permits power to be delivered to connection points along the east or west coasts of England to tie into specific new hyperscale data centres being developed by large digital users of renewable energy.

The developer has worked across British government departments and agencies – including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and National Grid Electricity System Operator (National Grid ESO) – to secure the necessary recognition that captive renewable power, generated outside the UK but dispatched exclusively by the UK transmission system operator may be connected to the UK grid and is eligible for CFDs.

HIP is comprised of Hecate Wind LLC (Hecate), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hecate Holdings LLC, and Independent Power Corporation PLC.