Statoil lands huge wind project

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Great Britain has discovered that the answer to its energy demands is blowing in the North Sea, and Norwegian oil company Statoil has won a contract to help the British develop an enormous offshore windmill operation. Norwegian power supplier Statkraft is involved as well.

British authorities, led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, unveiled details on Friday of the world’s largest wind energy operation at Dogger Bank, about 125 kilometers off the coast of Yorkshire.

It calls for construction of as many as 2,00o offshore windmills to be placed in the middle of the North Sea. The contract, which also involves Scottish and Southern Energy and RWE Power of Germany in a consortium called Forewind, is worth more than NOK 700 billion.

“Dogger Bank is a challenging zone, where our competence from the offshore oil and gas business will be of significant value,” said Margareth Øvrum of Statoil.

Water depths in the area range from 18 to 63 meters, according to Statoil, which has decades of experience working in harsh North Sea conditions.

Bård Mikkelsen of Statkraft said the project will also allow the firms to use knowledge gained “from our windmills on land. In addition we’ll build up more competence in harnessing offshore wind power.”

Both Statoil and Statkraft already have been involved in development of the 315-megawatt wind power park at Sheringham Shoal, off the British coast. The British government hopes to generate 25 percent of its energy consumption from wind power by 2020.Norway to date has generated most of its own energy from hydroelectric power, but government ministers said Friday that experience gained from the Dogger Bank project can lead to other wind power projects in Norwegian sectors of the North Sea.

It’s also hoped the huge project will lead to business for Norwegian suppliers.

“Offshore wind is a strategic pillar for Statoil’s new energy business,” said Øvrum. Statoil, faced with a need to diversify from its oil and gas roots, last fall mounted a floating windmill near Karmøy. The Hywind project has attracted international interest, not least because of new EU directives that call for member countries to generate 20 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.