United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Equinor plans ‘UK first’ for North Sea offshore wind farms

Equinor hopes to use a single onshore connection point for two offshore wind farms it plans to build in the UK North Sea – a plan it called a “milestone” for the UK’s offshore wind sector.

Sheringham Shoal was commissioned in 2013 (pic credit: Alan O'Neill/Equinor)
Sheringham Shoal was commissioned in 2013 (pic credit: Alan O'Neill/Equinor)

It filed for permitting approval to double the capacity at its 317MW Sheringham Shoal and 402MW Dudgeon projects on Friday (2 September).

The Norwegian energy giant aims to develop the wind farms together with an integrated transmission system with a shared landfall and shared point of connection to the grid.

Regulatory changes are needed in order to facilitate this, Equinor explained. It is engaging with UK energy regulator Ofgem on this, a spokesman added.

The plan marks the first time two offshore wind farms in the UK are being proposed with an integrated transmission system, including a single point of connection to shore, it noted.

Equinor’s project director Kari-Hege Mørk described this as a “milestone” for the offshore wind industry.

Ofgem has designated the extensions as ‘pathfinder projects’ in its review of how it can better coordinate offshore grid connections. The ‘pathfinder’ status means the projects “have the potential to deliver benefits on better coordinated offshore transmission systems in the near-term and provide important learnings”.

CEO of industry body RenewableUK Dan McGrail said: “The industry is working with government, regulators and communities to find new ways of connecting offshore wind farms more quickly and with fewer local impacts.”

The UK government’s planning inspectorate has 28 days to decide whether to examine the application. If the application is accepted, there will be a public consultation on the plans.

The wind farms are planned off the UK’s Norfolk coast – where campaigners have launched legal challenges against offshore wind farms due to their substations’ impacts on local farmland.

The 317MW Sheringham Shoal Sheringham Shoal (317MW) Offshoreoff Norfolk, England, UK, Europe Click to see full details project was commissioned in 2013, while the Dudgeon project came online in 2017.

Seabed landlord the Crown Estate granted Equinor the rights to extend both projects in 2020.

The developer still needs to secure permitting approval for the project extensions and power deals for their output.

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