Wind Power

24 Mar 2020

France Oil Giant Total Enters Floating Offshore Wind Sector with UK Acquisition

24 Mar 2020  by RENEW ECONOMY   

French oil and gas major Total has acquired an 80% stake in the 96MW Erebus floating offshore wind projected to be built off the coast of Wales in the Celtic Sea, marking its first investment in the offshore wind sector.

Despite its history as an oil and gas major, Total has nevertheless made significant headway in developing renewable energy sources, and targeted 25GW of new renewable electricity generation capacity by 2025.

In just the last couple of months, the company’s renewable energy activities have included partnering with Japanese company Marubeni to build an 800MW solar plant in Qatar for the football World Cup, a $US510 million deal with India’s Adani Group to help roll-out solar across the sub-continent, and the acquisition last week, through the company’s subsidiary Total Quadran, of Global Wind Power France and its 1,025MW portfolio of onshore wind projects.

“Following Vents d’Oc’ acquisition in 2019, this new investment demonstrates Total’s commitment to expand in all types of renewable energy while contributing to France’s energy transition goals,” said Philippe Sauquet, President Gas, Renewables and Power at Total.

“It strengthens Total Quadran’s footprint adding to its existing portfolio of nearly 1000MW of installed and operated capacity, including over 500MW of onshore wind and confirms its ambition to be one of the main players on France’s renewables market.”

Total also announced last week that it had entered into an agreement with Irish ocean resources company Simply Blue Energy to acquire an 80% stake in the 96MW Erebus floating offshore wind project.

Set to be built off the coast of Wales in the Celtic Sea in water depths of 70 metres, the Erebus project is intended as a demonstration project for a potential fleet of floating offshore wind farms in the area. Simply Blue Energy and Total’s partnership is the new Joint Venture, Blue Gem Wind, which filed an application to the UK Crown Estate for the project.

“With its entry into floating offshore wind, Total confirms its ambition to contribute to the development of renewable energy worldwide,” said Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman & CEO of Total. “Floating offshore wind is an extremely promising and technical segment where Total brings its extensive expertise in offshore operations & maintenance. Total has the appropriate skills to meet the technological and financial requirements that determine the success of future floating offshore developments.”

Total’s move into the floating offshore wind sector could be an important milestone for the technology as it seeks to scale up and prove itself a viable source of cost-competitive renewable electricity generation.

Able to make use of water depths beyond the financial constrains of traditional offshore wind farms – which, in turn, allows the technology to reach stronger and more consistent wind speeds – floating offshore wind could be an important technology for reaching global renewable electricity targets.

Simply Blue Energy has already been engaging with the local supply chain around the Celtic Sea with the aim of engaging local companies to get involved with the Erebus project, which is expected to be completed and commissioned in the middle of the decade.

The Erebus floating offshore wind farm will be reliant upon suitable revenue support and will benefit greatly from amendments in early-March to the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference scheme which will now allow bids from onshore wind, solar, and floating offshore wind.

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