Traditional offshore companies like Eni and Statoil have long recognized the need to be involved in the renewable energy sector. Eni made major discoveries like the giant Zohr gas field in the Mediterranean Sea which is now being fast-tracked towards production later this year. The industry leader, however, is not making developments at the expense of renewable energy.
In November 2016, the global supermajor signed an agreement with GE to develop renewable energy projects and hybrid solutions with a focus on energy efficiency. The two companies intend to identify and develop large-scale power generation projects from solar power, offshore and onshore wind generation, hybrid gas-renewable projects, to waste-to-energy projects. As a part of the deal, Eni is developing renewable sources by leveraging the industrial and commercial of traditional offshoring activities.
Statoil Built World’s First Floating Wind Farm
By the same token, Statoil is developing what will eventually be the world’s largest floating windfarm offshore in Scotland. The project will see five 6-MW turbines supplied by Siemens placed in 100 m of water in the U.K. North Sea generating electricity. This is consequent of the successful trial of a single 2.3-MW floating turbine running offshore Norway since 2009 in 220 m of water. In addition, Siemens also supplied the Hywind Demo Turbine with the 100-m deep draft floating cylindrical steel spar built by Technip.
This is not a small-scale, one-time project. As a matter of fact, Statoil will be investing $233 million in Hywind Scotland. It remains to be a forerunner to large-scale development in the renewables energy sector.
While the market is relatively small at the moment making up only 3 percent of all wind power, it will only continue to grow as countries like U.S., India, China, and Japan ramp up their renewable energy goals.
In addition, wind energy can also be reapplied back into the oil and gas sector. According to a study released in 2016, a floating wind turbine (instead of a gas turbine) could economically provide enough power for water injection to boost oil production from depleting oil reservoirs without the need to shut down operations and at the same time greatly reduce costs. DNV along with ExxonMobil estimated savings of around $3/bbl of oil using a 6-MW Hywind instead of the traditional 2-MW water injection pump.
The cynicism about the economic and environmental benefits of floating wind farms are fast disappearing. All thanks to the pilot projects carried off in Italy, Norway, and Japan. As costs continue to reduce through design improvements and increasing competitiveness, the onshore and offshore installations will continue to grow, with the wind taking us into the right direction for the health of our planet.