Equinor sets sights on becoming 'offshore wind major'

Equinor plans to become a major offshore wind developer and grow its renewables fleet tenfold by 2026, which will help it to meet another new target of halving the net carbon intensity of its energy production by 2050.

Equinor currently has equity shares in 513.5MW of operational offshore wind, including a 75% stake in the 30MW Hywind project (above)
Equinor currently has equity shares in 513.5MW of operational offshore wind, including a 75% stake in the 30MW Hywind project (above)

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This carbon intensity reduction goal means by mid-century, each unit of energy Equinor generates will, on average, produce half of the carbon emissions compared to today, it explained.

The Norwegian energy company expects to meet this target through “significant growth in renewables and changes in the scale and composition of (its) oil and gas portfolio”, but may also use offset mechanisms and "natural sinks".

Equinor suggested investments in the protection of tropical rainforests could be one method of offsetting emissions.

It also set shorter-term goals of increasing its shares in global renewable energy capacity tenfold to 4-6GW by 2026 — up from just over 500MW today — before ramping up to 12-16GW by 2035 “dependent on the availability of attractive project opportunities”.

Equinor said it wants to become a “global offshore wind major”, but failed to set a specific target for offshore wind.

It currently has shares in 513.5MW of operational offshore wind power capacity, and in just over 5GW of under-development wind power capacity — mostly offshore — expected online before 2030, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly.

Equinor’s New Energy Solutions unit plans annual gross capital expenditure of between $500 million and $1 billion in 2020-21 and $2-3 billion in 2022-23.

“We are developing as a broad energy company, leveraging the strong synergies between oil, gas, renewables, CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation, and storage) and hydrogen," CEO Eldar Sætre explained.

Equinor also plans to reach carbon-neutral global operations by 2030.

The Norwegian giant is the most recent company active in the renewable energy space setting targets for reducing carbon emissions.

Most recently, rival wind developer Ørsted announced plans to become a carbon-neutral company by 2025, while turbine manufacturer Vestas aims to become carbon neutral without the use of offsetting.

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