Ørsted’s Offshore Wind and BP’s CCUS Plans Clash in UK Waters

Ørsted and BP have submitted position statements to the UK Planning Inspectorate with regard to their offshore wind and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) projects in the UK, with Ørsted saying BP is trying to force exclusion so that the offshore wind developer cannot locate its Hornsea Four turbines in an overlapping seabed area.

Namely, both the 2.6 GW Hornsea Four offshore wind farm and the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP) offshore carbon dioxide ‎‎(CO2) transport and storage project are proposed to be situated within an overlapping area of the seabed offshore the UK.

Back in 2013, the parties behind the two projects at the time, Smart Wind Limited behind Hornsea Four and National Grid Twenty Nine Limited behind NEP, which already has a licence, agreed to enter into an Interface Agreement to seek to regulate and co-ordinate their activities with a view of managing potential and resolving actual conflicts.

The current licensee of the NEP project site is a consortium between Carbon Sentinel Limited (previously known as National Grid Twenty Nine Limited), Equinor, and BP, with BP being the operator of the licence on behalf of its partners.

Ørsted says it proposed protective provisions for the benefit of the NEP project in its draft development consent order (DCO) for Hornsea Four, which envisage co-existence in the Overlap Zone, while BP proposed protective provisions also for the benefit of its project, which would prevent the development of Hornsea Four infrastructure in the part of the Overlap Zone in which the carbon storage project would be located, referred to as the Exclusion Area.

According to Ørsted, BP’s objective is to force exclusion so that the company cannot locate turbines in the Overlap Zone “rather than focus upon mitigating the impact of either project upon the other”. The offshore wind developer also says BP’s proposed protective provisions “seek to disapply the Interface Agreement”.

BP, on the other hand, says the mitigation Ørsted relies upon to enable co-existence to be successfully achieved in the Overlap Zone is “unspecified and undeliverable, and therefore their assessment is flawed”.

“There is no circumstance in which NEP would be able technically or financially to carry out the NEP project as part of the ECC plan if development of Hornsea 4 infrastructure is allowed in the Exclusion Area”, BP states in its position statement.

The oil and gas major suggested that the examining authority requests that Ørsted provides a supplemental assessment, setting out the environmental impacts of Hornsea Four in the event that NEP’s protective provisions are adopted, preventing any activities by Orsted in the Exclusion Area, and a revised assessment of the effects in the absence of those protective provisions, addressing the mitigation BP identified as flawed.

The examination of the Hornsea Four DCO application at the Planning Inspectorate began on 22 February 2022, after the developer submitted the application in October last year.

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In its position statement to the Planning Inspectorate, Ørsted states the Overlap Zone represents approximately 25 per cent of the developable area for the wind project and that a 25 per cent reduction in the number of turbines would mean a loss of 45 units, resulting in a project capacity of 630 MW to 675 MW, depending upon whether a 14 MW or 15 MW turbines will be deployed.

Furthermore, if the turbines are located to the southern part of the array, the additional wake losses will make the project uncompetitive and potentially result in a failure to achieve full grid capacity of 2.6 GW, Ørsted says.

“bp maintain that using fewer, larger turbines would achieve the same generating capacity without any wake loss impacts occurring. This assumption is incorrect. The largest current model commercially available is 14MW. Vestas have announced a 15MW wind turbine which may be commercially available however even based on the 15MW turbine the Applicant still requires 180 turbines to build out the secured grid capacity of 2.6GW once transmission losses are factored in”, the offshore wind developer says.

Both parties also said that they had been engaging proactively with each other over several years to explore the viability of coexistence between Hornsea Four and the NEP Project in the Overlap Zone.

In a statement to offshoreWIND.biz, a spokesperson from BP said: “We are committed to finding a resolution to this issue and a mutually acceptable outcome through the ongoing commercial discussions”.

“Clearly, the UK Government is currently supportive of both technologies and we fully support the need to make full use of all the tools at our disposal on the pathway to Net Zero” a spokesperson for Ørsted said.

We have been working closely with bp to highlight and discuss the various options available. We’re confident that an agreement can be reached to allow both projects to move forward”.

However, the issue of co-location has been brought into sharp focus and it’s essential that a solution is found. The technology exists to allow offshore wind and CCUS to work in harmony, but genuine collaboration is needed to safeguard future projects” Ørsted’s spokesperson said.

The UK’s Government’s ambition for offshore wind in its transition to green energy has also been highlighted Ørsted: “If we are to meet the 40GW by 2030 target, it’s vital that offshore wind projects are deployed sensitively, sustainably and without delay. We will continue to engage closely with all relevant stakeholders to work towards a solution”.

The company acquired the rights to develop the Hornsea zone, comprising four projects, in 2015 from Smart Wind, which originally secured the development rights in the UK Round 3 offshore wind auction.

The Danish company has already put into operation the 1.2 GW Hornsea One offshore wind farm, while the 1.32 GW Hornsea Two is currently under construction with full commissioning expected this year.

The UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) gave the development consent to the 2.4 GW Hornsea Three on 31 December 2020.

As for the NEP project, the ‎infrastructure will serve the proposed Net Zero Teesside (NZT) and Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) ‎projects that aim to establish decarbonized industrial clusters in Teesside and Humberside.

NZT and ZCH are at-scale decarbonization projects that will kick start decarbonization of industry and ‎power in two of the UK’s largest industrial clusters. Both projects aim to be commissioned by 2026 ‎with realistic pathways to achieve net-zero as early as 2030 through a combination of carbon capture, ‎hydrogen, and fuel-switching.

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Photo: Ørsted