£20bn plans unveiled to turn North Sea platforms green

Multi-billion-pound plans have been unveiled to erect hundreds of floating wind turbines to provide “green” power for North Sea oil and gas platforms.

Cerulean Winds said it was kick starting the route to net zero oil and gas production with its ambitious plans to build an offshore integrated green power and transmission system, powered by floating wind. The firm, along with partner Frontier Power International, is looking to develop three vast sites comprising hundreds of floating turbines, after being offered the lion’s share of seabed leases in the recent Crown Estate Scotland leasing round.

Bosses said the scale and location close together in the central area of the North Sea would enable a new basin-wide offshore transmission system to be constructed which platforms can access, allowing them to remove millions of tonnes of production emissions by trading gas and diesel generation for a “flexible, cost effective and cleaner alternative”. With their delivery consortium of partners, including NOV, Siemens Gamesa, Siemens Energy, DEME and Worley, the firms will deliver one of the country’s largest infrastructure investment projects - in the region of £20 billion - and support the sector’s decarbonisation targets.

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Phase one of the North Sea Renewables Grid (NSRG) will focus on oil and gas operators to support their brownfield modifications with future phases exporting green power to grids in the UK and Europe.

Dan Jackson, founding director of Cerulean Winds said: “The oil and gas sector is wrestling with the challenges of meeting the North Sea transition deal emissions reduction targets whilst supporting UK energy security. We recognise that to achieve meaningful reductions at the pace required, a reliable basin-wide approach is needed that they can plug into when they are ready for affordable power. Early oil and gas electrification supports the country’s energy security, net zero action and delivers huge benefits to the supply chain and economy, creating 10,000 jobs. With our partners we will accelerate access to green power and provide the infrastructure for the next phase of the North Sea’s life.”

Cerulean said it had agreed an approach with its industrial partners early to de-risk the project in the same way other large-scale infrastructure developments are initiated. In total, the three wind farms will contribute some £12bn to the UK’s economy.

Jackson added: “We are targeting a build out before ScotWind developments, allowing the supply chain to respond, creating crucial partnering opportunities for the ports and getting the market ready to deliver floating wind at scale. It will make a material impact on Scotland’s emissions, removing millions of tonnes of CO2 a year to support a just transition.”

Humza Malik, founding partner of Frontier Power said: “Each wind farm site is located within 100km of the others and will be connected together to form the offshore ring main around the central North Sea. A high voltage alternating current (HVAC) transmission will provide availability and redundancy for maximising generation uptime. The scale allows for offtake to other parts of the North Sea through a new high voltage direct current (HDVC) network.”

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