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Hornsea Four offshore wind farm on hold due to dispute with CCUS project

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Ørsted has been forced to put the construction of its Hornsea Four offshore wind farm on hold due to an ongoing dispute with a carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) project being led by oil giant BP. 

For those of you wondering why these two projects sound familiar, that’s because they were the subject of a Gossage Gossip column in March last year. At the time our columnist explained that the competition between the two projects could lead to a reduction in the size of the Hornsea Four project by as much as 675 MW, which could make the project uncompetitive. 

Now it seems that the Planning Inspectorate has sided with BP’s Endurance CCUS project, with it delaying Hornsea Four’s permitting decision until mid-July. Critics have argued that this would be short-sighted, given it would delay 2.6 GW of offshore wind being added to the grid at a time when the country is racing to achieve net zero. 

Despite this, proponents of CCUS have argued that the Endurance project would be able to capture and store CO2 emissions from industrial processes in the UK’S Humber and Teeside regions, which has the potential to cut a huge amount of CO2 reaching the atmosphere. That’s because the CO2 would be captured from four different sites, including a refinery, a hydrogen production facility and two power plants. 

While the jury is still out on whether CCUS can actually make a meaningful dent in CO2 emissions, something our Gossage Gossip columnist has been sceptical about, one thing is for sure, these two projects need to resolve their differences. That’s because they share an area of around 42 square miles and if they are to co-exist, they need to learn to get along, which was attempted in 2013 with an Interface Agreement, but since then the two projects have been at loggerheads, with Ørsted asking for coexistence and BP asking for the wind farm to be moved out of the overlap area. 

It’s unlikely that Ørsted will agree to reducing the size of its wind farm, but it’s now up to the UK Government to bridge the divide between the two firms. With the Planning Inspectorate set to make its final decision on Hornsea Four in mid-July, time is running out for these two key projects that will help the UK achieve its net zero goal by 2050.

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