The CEO of TotalEnergies said the oil & gas supermajor needs partners as it enters an offshore wind sector where “we are late to the business” and which still presents risks even to global energy giants.
Speaking as news emerged of the French group’s latest joint venture alliances in US offshore wind – with German utility EnBW and floating specialist Simply Blue Energy – Patrick Pouyanné defended its partnership model for expansion in wind at sea when quizzed at the group’s latest strategy update for investors.
The US link-ups added to partnerships already formed with the likes of SSE, Macquarie and Iberdrola to either progress existing projects or bid for new rights, as TotalEnergies looks to make offshore wind a key plank of its 100GW gross renewables ambition for 2030.
“When you bid to acquire seabed rights in the UK, or tomorrow in the US, that’s not for free.
“This model where you first bid for seabed rights and you’ll [then] find the electricity price for a PPA [power purchase agreement], there is a risk,” said the TotalEnergies CEO, adding that “I’m comfortable” sharing that risk with another company.
Pouyanné added: “We are late in this business.” In fixed-bottom offshore wind, he said TotalEnergies soon recognised that some players “spent two, three, four years to accumulate data on some specific location”, leaving them in a better position to build a project.
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“If you come late, you don’t have the same capability. That’s why we are looking for partners – to cope with the fact that we were late on certain geographies.”
TotalEnergies’ approach mirrors that taken by fellow European supermajors looking to enter offshore wind, including BP, which has allied with EnBW in the UK and sector early-mover Equinor in the US, and Shell, which has linked with Ocean Winds in the American market.
Pouyanné’s comments came as TotalEnergies and its two partners in the ScotWind seabed leasing round – Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and local developer RIDG – gave more details of their bid, a 2GW fixed-foundation plan called West of Orkney Windfarm.
The partners said the project would position Scrabster Harbour on the far northern tip of Scotland to act as a support base for offshore wind, and the bidders have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) on Orkney “formalising a long-standing relationship in technical innovation and environmental data collection”.
The wind farm has secured a grid connection and could start generating by 2029, said the partners.
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