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Orsted, BP compete for the right to build net zero technologies

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Hornsea One - Offshore Wind Farm - Orsted
Orsted wants to expand its Hornsea One offshore wind farm. Image courtesy of Orsted.

In this week’s Gossage, our columnist explores the rather odd occurence of Orsted and BP arguing over the rights of the seabed off the coast of the East of England to build competing sustainable technologies.

According to Boris Johnson, reaching net zero emissions by 2050 requires massive expansion of both offshore wind electricity and of carbon capture and storage. I presume he doesn’t mean in the same place.

Danish energy firm Orsted has accused BP of trying to block the development of part of a giant wind farm off the east coast of England. Both companies have secured rights to the seabed. Orsted, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind, is seeking to build a project using the ocean floor. But BP wants to store carbon dioxide beneath it.

According to a document from Orsted, published by the UK government’s Planning Inspectorate, BP is trying to ‘force exclusion’ so that Orsted can’t install wind turbines in an area where the two projects overlap. The wind project in question is known as Hornsea Project Four, which is set to have about 2.6 GW of capacity when constructed, potentially later this decade. 

According to the Danish company, “the overlap between the two projects accounts for about 25% of the wind farm’s area.” Losing that much space would reduce the size of the project by as much as 675 MW, which could make the project uncompetitive. The reduction in size could also make the company “unable to win a government auction to sell power at fixed prices that can be crucial to an offshore wind farm’s viability.”

Effectively this dispute reveals for the first time a serious conflict between two competing net zero technologies. I suspect it won’t be the last.

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