BP could build Aberdeen-controlled wind farms in British waters without subsidies

07/08/2023
BP CEO Bernard Looney

BP IS considering building two huge offshore wind farms in British waters without government subsidy contracts in what would be a first for the sector.

Bernard Looney, the energy group’s chief executive, said it could start building the Morgan and Mona projects in the Irish Sea as soon as “late next year” and may not seek contracts from Westmnster to guarantee their revenues. 

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The wind farms together would boast up to 214 turbines about 20 miles off the coasts of north Wales and north-west England and could power 3.4million homes.

The two facilities would have a remote operating control centre in Aberdeen.

The comments from the BP boss comments buck a gloomy mood in the offshore wind industry as it battles soaring costs, with other developers lobbying for increased subsidies and scrapping some projects. 

However, his ambitious timescale was met with scepticism from industry experts, given that BP has yet to apply for planning consent, which can take several years to secure.

Subsidy


The Times says every big wind farm in UK waters to date has been built with some form of subsidy scheme, with projects in recent years supported by “contracts for difference” awarded through government auctions.

However, BP believes it can make use of much of the electricity itself, such as to supply electric vehicle chargers and to make “green” hydrogen through electrolysis, which could obviate the need for such a contract.

Mr Looney said: “We may not enter any (contracts for difference) auction actually, because our strategy is to use the electrons for our own use where we can. 

“There’s a lot of green electricity demand for us in the UK.” 

BP is developing the two wind projects south of the border jointly with EnBW, of Germany. 

Mr Looney said “the big issue has been the grid connection”, which he believed the company was “very close” to securing.

Confidence

Barnaby Wharton, a director at RenewableUK, said the potential for wind farms to be developed with no contracts for difference support showed “confidence in the UK’s offshore wind market during challenging economic times worldwide”.

Meanwhile, Mr Looney last week warned that it will not invest in green energy schemes unless they are profitable enough.

He said that green energy schemes had to pay their own way, as oil companies face pressure from investors to focus on fossil-fuel production rather than less profitable wind and solar farms.

And, in May, it was reported that plans were moving ahead for a major wind project involving BP in the North Sea off Aberdeen.

The British energy group and EnBW have a ScotWind lease option for the Morven development.

The fixed-bottom project will have a total generating capacity of around 2.9 GW – sufficient to power more than three million homes.

BP and EnBW have now taken premises in Edinburgh which will become a base for Morven.

The partners are also bringing a remote operating control centre to Aberdeen for their joint UK wind projects, of which there are now three in development. – Morven, Morgan and Mona.

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