UK offshore wind prices plummet to 40 pounds/MWh; Dominion submits 2.6 GW Virginia project

Our pick of the latest wind power news you need to know.

UK awards six new offshore wind projects at around 40 pounds/MWh

The UK government has awarded 5.5 GW of new offshore wind projects at strike prices of between 39.65 and 41.61 pounds/MWh ($49.3-$51.8/MWh), around 30% lower than prices awarded in 2017.

"For the first time renewables are expected to come online below market prices and without additional subsidy on bills," the government said in a statement.

Equinor and SSE were awarded contracts for difference (CFDs) for three 1.2 GW projects at Dogger Bank in the North Sea which will be brought online in 2023-2025. SSE also won a CFD for its 454 MW Seagreen Phase 1 project in the Firth of Forth off the Scottish coast. Innogy was awarded the 1.4 GW Sofia Offshore Wind Farm project located on Dogger Bank. Floating wind developer Cierco was awarded a 12 MW demonstration project in the Firth of Forth.

In March, the government signed a 250 million-pound sector deal with the offshore wind industry, targeting one third of the UK's electricity from offshore wind by 2030.

The UK currently has 8 GW of installed offshore wind capacity and plans to tender for 2 GW per year of new capacity over the coming decade.

This latest auction "confirms the UK’s position as the leader in offshore wind in Europe," Giles Dickson, CEO of industry group WindEurope, said

The UK has the largest capacity auction plans in Europe and the "best" auction model through CFDs that deliver the lowest overall cost to society, Dickson said.

Dominion files 2.6 GW offshore wind project in Virginia

Dominion Energy has filed to the PJM grid operator a proposal to build 2.6 GW of new offshore wind capacity by 2026 off the coast of Virginia, U.S., the group announced September 19.

The filing represents the largest U.S. offshore wind project to date and comes after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed an Executive Order targeting 30% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, including 2.5 GW of offshore wind by 2026.

"Governor Ralph Northam has made it clear Virginia is committed to leading the way in offshore wind. We are rising to this challenge with this 2.6 GW commercial offshore wind development," Mark D. Mitchell, Vice President of Generation Construction at Dominion Energy, said in a statement.

The mammoth project would be built within Dominion Energy's 112,800-acre lease located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The project would be built in three phases of 880 MW which would come online in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

In June, Dominion Energy began construction of its 12 MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project, the first fully-permitted offshore wind farm in the US. The project is due online in 2020.

"Dominion Energy will leverage key learnings from the permitting, design and development of that project as it goes through a similar process for commercial offshore wind development," it said.

Orsted first developer to use 12 MW offshore wind turbines

Offshore wind major Orsted is to use GE Renewable Energy's 12 MW offshore wind turbines-- the largest commercially available-- on two Mid-Atlantic cluster projects in Maryland and New Jersey, Orsted said in a statement September 19.

Orsted has selected the giant Haliade-X turbines for its 120 MW skipjack project due online in Maryland in 2022, and its 1.1 GW Ocean wind project in New Jersey, scheduled online by 2024, the Danish group said.

Orsted has already partnered with GE on its 30 MW Block Island wind farm, the first large-scale facility installed in U.S. waters, installing five 6 MW turbines in 2016.

The Haliade-X is 250 metres tall and has a 220-metre rotor, around a third longer than today's operational 8 MW models. The turbine will achieve a capacity factor of 63% which is five to seven percentage points higher than the current industry benchmark, GE said at the product launch in 2018.

“We look forward to introducing the next generation offshore wind turbine to the market," Martin Neubert, Executive Vice President and CEO of Orsted Offshore, said in a statement.

"For decades, Orsted has pioneered the introduction of new technology and new suppliers which has been fundamental to drive down the cost of electricity," he said.

Senvion in talks to sell services, assets to Siemens Gamesa

Wind turbine supplier Senvion has entered into exclusive talks with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy for the sale of selected services and onshore wind assets in Europe, Senvion announced September 16.

"The parties are now entering final negotiations and, if final agreements are reached, expect that the necessary decisions will be taken by the end of September," Senvion said.

Intense price competition has dented the margins of turbine suppliers and spurred market consolidation.

Senvion entered voluntary insolvency in April following unsuccessful refinancing talks with lenders.

Senvion will retain financial arrangements that secure ongoing business activities over the timeline of the talks and some production jobs will be secured until into 2020, the company said.

"For the remaining business areas, the company continues to explore further options and negotiations with investors," it said.

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