Offshore wind firms form climate change coalition

Source: By Heather Richards, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The largest offshore wind developers in the world announced a global coalition yesterday to foster ocean-based renewable power as a means to combat climate change.

Denmark’s Ørsted A/S and Norway’s Equinor ASA, companies dominating the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind industry, are leading the initiative, alongside partners including MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA.

The group, called the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition, said floating solar, tidal, wave and wind power could play a significant role in driving down emissions that cause global warming. Its members aim to speak on behalf of the offshore wind sector in a larger political and social conversation about combating climate change, according to a statement.

“If we’re serious about fighting the climate crisis, it’s vital we decarbonise the world’s energy use as quickly as possible through technologies like offshore wind,” said Benj Sykes, vice president at Ørsted, in a statement yesterday.

The offshore coalition was formed in response to a September report from the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, a group providing analysis on ocean policy to 14 heads of government, including in Canada, Australia and Japan.

The report called for greater offshore power to help drive the emissions reductions required by 2050 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels.

The coalition will disclose a “vision for 2050” that provides steps for financiers and governments to scale up offshore wind projects, according to the release.

“Collaboration between nations and companies is needed to accelerate the sustainable deployment of ocean renewable energy. This Action Coalition includes leading industry players in offshore wind and we are working together to unleash the full potential of offshore wind globally,” Stephen Bull, senior vice president for wind and low carbon development at Equinor, said in a statement.

The U.S. offshore wind sector lags behind the one in Europe, where developers have brought many commercial projects online and driven down costs for new wind power.

A pilot project off the coast of Rhode Island, the Block Island Wind Farm, is the only offshore wind farm to date in U.S. waters. But costs have fallen, and state commitments to buy offshore wind power have skyrocketed.

Proposals to develop roughly 25,000 megawatts of new U.S. offshore wind await the conclusion of a federal study on wind’s impact to fisheries. The study last year stalled the potential first commercial offshore wind farm in the country (Climatewire, Aug. 12, 2019).