Equinor eyes 6GW build-out with Australian offshore wind debut

Norwegian energy giant Equinor has agreed to work with Australia and New Zealand-focused developer Oceanex Energy on three 2GW floating offshore wind farms off the coast of New South Wales.

Equinor installed the 30MW floating Hywind Scotland project in UK waters (pic credit: Eqionor/Woldcam - Roar Lindefjeld)

The partners aim to submit permitting applications for the three wind farms — the 2000MW Novocastrian 2000MW Illawarra and 2000MW Eden projects – once the relevant areas have been formally declared as offshore wind zones by the Australian government.

It is unclear whether Equinor has bought a stake in the projects, and if so, what percentage it will own.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to relevant approvals.

It marks Equinor’s entry into Australian offshore wind. The Norwegian energy giant has previously developed floating offshore wind in UK waters, and is close to completing another project in its home market. It is also eyeing offshore wind projects in Brazil, France, Poland, South Korea, Spain and the US.

Meanwhile, Oceanex Energy – co-founded by originators of the 2200MW Star of the South project, Australia’s most advanced offshore wind farm – is targeting two other 2GW projects in Australian waters and three 1GW projects off New Zealand.

Oceanex CEO Andy Evans said: “We believe that Equinor, as leaders in offshore wind and floating foundation development, are the ideal partner to progress these exciting projects.”

Earlier this month, Australia launched a public consultation on designating a site off Victoria in the country’s south-east for offshore wind development. It also identified five other areas with the potential for offshore wind development – due to them hosting existing power generation facilities, industrial hubs, transmission networks and major export ports, according to the government – including sites off Hunter and Illawarra in Australia.

It is as yet unclear how much capacity the zones could support, or how projects will eventually be compensated for their electricity production.