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28 September 2022

Offshore wind to take Europe by storm this decade

Aquaterra Energy, a global offshore engineering firm, announced an agreement with Seawind Ocean Technologies, a turnkey supplier of floating and bottom fixed offshore wind assets, to co-develop the world’s largest offshore floating wind and green hydrogen production project, named HyMed. The project will have a power capability of 3.2 GW and is expected to become operational in the Mediterranean ultra-deep waters by 2027.

The project is currently waiting on permits, but the grid connection and the environmental impact assessments are well under way. Both companies also agreed to develop and construct the wind and hydrogen offshore assets in Italy, creating thousands of qualified jobs.

In order to strengthen their relationship, the two companies also agreed on a 300MW hydrogen production project in southwest Greece, named Icarus.

The initial field development of the first assets, is expected to produce 3.2GW of electricity, of which more than 1GW will be green hydrogen once production units are fully operational. The offshore green hydrogen produced will be transported by pipelines to shore and by vessels to global markets. A strategy reiterated by Rethink in our latest hydrogen transportation paper.

At a time when Europe is trying to navigate an energy induced economic crisis, such projects can’t begin operating soon enough, and thus cut the continent’s dependency on an economically volatile resource such as natural gas. Anne Haase, the Renewables director at Aquaterra Energy, said that the partnership represents an exciting opportunity given that the value of hydrogen is beginning to be recognized by governments and businesses.

But hydrogen is only half of the solution. Renewable energy sources are required to make the hydrogen green as opposed to grey or blue, both coming from natural gas with the latter involving an additional step in the form of carbon capture and storage. Offshore wind turbines, either creating green hydrogen at scale or simply connecting to the grid, represent an emerging preferred solution to these problems.

Europe is accelerating its transition to a fully sustainable future by backing such developments. A 1.2 GW offshore wind project located 23km off the coast of the Polish Baltic Sea shoreline, near Leba, will see Baltic Power, a joint venture between PKN Orlen and Northland Power, generate renewable electricity with the help of 76 V236-15MW wind turbines from Vestas.

Based on claims made by the giant wind turbine manufacturer, the full capacity of the project has the potential to power around 1.5 million households and displace more than 228,000 tons of CO2 every year once operational from 2026.

Another deal, this time involving 72 V236-15MW wind turbines from Vestas, worth 1.1GW, has been agreed by Inch Cape Offshore Limited, a joint venture between Red Rock Power Limited and ESB, and will be located 15km off the Angus Coast on Eastern Scotland.

In the meantime, news coming from the southwest of Europe informs us that the Portuguese Environment Minister, Duarte Cordeiro, has increased the goal for the nation’s debut offshore wind auction to 10GW. The previous target of 6-8GW was itself almost doubled from the original aim at the start of the year. Portugal has already paved the way forward for offshore wind projects thanks to the EDP Renewables-led 25MW three turbine project that has been operational off Viana do Castelo since 2020.

Additionally, multiple projects worth a combined 2GW of power are being prepared by IberBlue, an Irish-Spanish joint venture, to take part in upcoming tenders in Spain and Portugal.

The emerging offshore wind landscape will be pivotal to the global efforts of decarbonization. And not only Europe is taking this initiative. Governor Phil Muphy has signed an Executive Order to increase New Jersey’s offshore wind goal to 11GW by 2040.

With the COP27 (2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference) soon to take place in Egypt this November, more than 100 players, active in the wind sector, signed up to the Global Wind Energy Manifesto for COP27, which calls for more political backing in order for planning and permitting to be streamlined, grids to be upgraded and renewable-friendly reforms to take place in the power markets.