Ørsted to Sell Half of Hornsea Two This Year, Omicron Causing Slight Delay in Full Commissioning

Ørsted will sell 50 per cent of its Hornsea Two offshore wind farm in the UK and expects to close the 1.3 GW project farm-down this year, the company said in its 2021 annual results. Putting the project in full operation will be slightly delayed due to the impact of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 on commissioning works, according to information in Ørsted’s latest report.

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The 1,320 MW Hornsea Two, located some 89 kilometres off the Yorkshire coast, will soon become the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm. The wind farm’s 165 turbines will be capable of powering more than 1.3 million homes once Hornsea Two is fully commissioned this year.

Hornsea Two Farm-Down

The farm-down of the offshore wind farm is in line with the developer’s business approach and follows the sale of a 50 per cent stake in the project’s predecessor, the 1.2 GW Hornsea One, and the most recent sale of stake in Ørsted’s Borkum Riffgrund 3 project in Germany, for which the company also expects to close the transaction this year.

“[We] will close the 50% farm-down of Borkum Riffgrund 3, expectedly during Q1 2022, and we expect to farm down 50% of Hornsea 2 during summer”, Ørsted states in its annual report.

“As part of the expected farm-down of Hornsea 2 in 2022, we will divest 50 % of the transmission assets to the partner, whereas we expect to divest our own 50 % share of the Hornsea 2 offshore transmission assets in 2023”, the company stated.

According to Reuters’ report from July 2021, which reported on the developer’s plan to sell a share of Hornsea Two, referring to sources close to the matter, the deal could value the 1.3 GW offshore wind farm at around EUR 3 billion, including debt.

Omicron to Slightly Delay Hornsea Two’s Full Commissioning

Hornsea Two generated its first power in December 2021, after its offshore substation, the world’s largest offshore AC substation, and reactive compensation station (RCS) were installed some two months earlier.

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In its 2021 annual report, Ørsted said it saw progress according to plan up until mid-December, but the accelerating Omicron variant infection rates meant that it was not possible to man the vessels used for commissioning work according to plan.

“As a consequence, the ramp-up profile will be delayed compared to our internal expectations, but we still expect to commission Hornsea 2 in H1 2022 as previously communicated”, the company said, mentioning elsewhere in the report that the project completion is expected in late H1 2022.

The jack-up vessel Sea Challenger installed the first of Hornsea Two’s 165 Siemens Gamesa 8.4 MW wind turbines at the end of May 2021.

All of the wind farm’s turbine foundations were installed in October 2021, as well as the project’s offshore substation (OSS) and the Reactive Compensation Station (RCS), and in late December 2021, Sea Installer left the Port of Hull loaded with the last batch of turbine components to be installed at the Hornsea Two site.

The power generated by the 165 wind turbines will be transferred to the OSS and RCS via 373 kilometres of array cables, reaching the national grid via 390 kilometres of offshore and 40 kilometres of onshore export cables which terminate at the onshore substation in Killingholme.

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Photo: Ørsted