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Total Launches First Floating Offshore Wind Project In UK

Total is famous for being a major name in the oil and gas industry but is slowly diversifying its business, having announced it is launching its first floating offshore wind project in the UK.

The French group has made an agreement with Simple Blue Energy for 80 per cent of a floating wind initiative in Wales’ Celtic Sea.

While offshore windfarms have predominantly been built in shallow waters based on fixed-bottom technology, Total will become one of the first companies in the UK to move into the floating offshore wind market.

Erebus, as the project is known, will be installed in water of at least 70 m deep and is expected to have a capacity of 96 megawatts.

It is believed that floating offshore wind projects will have a strong growth over the next few years, allowing more initiatives to be installed further offshore. Not only will this affect landscapes less, they will be able to count on high wind speeds for their energy production.

Chairman and chief executive officer of Total Patrick Pouyanne said: “With its entry into floating offshore wind, Total confirms its ambition to contribute to the development of renewable energy worldwide.”

He went on to say this industry is “extremely promising”, adding: “Total has the appropriate skills to meet the technological and financial requirements that determine the success of future floating offshore developments.”

While Total is one of the biggest companies to produce and market fuels and electricity, it is moving towards cleaner, low-carbon resources.

It is doing this by establishing a growing portfolio of low-carbon projects, which it hopes will account for up to 20 per cent of its sales over the next two decades. Currently, its renewable energies generation capacity is three gigawatts worldwide, with its total low-carbon power generation capacity reaching nearly seven gigawatts.

Total is not the first oil and gas company to move into offshore wind energy, as a report by Wood MacKenzie states that $211 billion (£182.34 billion) is expected to be invested into the environmentally-friendly industry over the next five years.

Already established energy providers are likely to provide this investment, as they have the finances as well as the understanding of the waters and the environment needed for these sites.

Soren Lassen, senior offshore wind analyst, and Mhairidh Evans, principal upstream supply chain analyst, at Wood MacKenzie told Forbes: “There is limited crossover today, but first movers have gone with the wind and more will soon follow.”

They added: “As interest and investment in offshore wind grow, investment in offshore oil and gas is likely to stabilise, narrowing the gap between the two sectors.”

Luke Fletcher, senior analyst at CDP, noted that Norway’s Equinor recently rebranded itself to a broad energy company and, as a result, is expected to invest 15 to 20 per cent in new energy solutions by 2030.

He stated this move is “symbolic of this shift”, with Equinor aiming to reduce its carbon intensity by 50 per cent before 2050.

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