Equinor signs a huge renewable energy contract in the United States

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Offices of the energy company Equinor photographed in Norway on February 6, 2019.

Odin Jaeger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Norway’s Equinor has won a major contract to provide renewable energy to New York State from two huge offshore wind farms in waters off the east coast.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the company said it was “the largest” offshore wind deal ever awarded in the US – and also “one of the largest renewable energy purchases in the US to date.”

Under the contract, Equinor and its partner BP will supply New York with renewable energy from the Empire Wind 2 and Beacon Wind 1 projects.

The two companies will also work with New York to develop the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Port of Albany into what Equinor calls “large-scale offshore wind turbines”.

Last year, BP agreed to acquire a 50% stake in Equinor’s Empire Wind and Beacon Wind projects, which are expected to close in early 2021.

The Empire Wind 2 and Beacon Wind 1 developments will have an output of 1,260 and 1,230 megawatts (MW), respectively. The contract announced on Wednesday will complement another agreement for energy from the 816 MW Empire Wind 1 project. Capacity refers to the maximum amount installations can produce, not the amount they are currently producing.

According to Equinor, the entire Empire Wind and Beacon Wind projects can each supply over a million households with electricity.

In a statement, Anders Opedal, CEO of Equinor, described the east coast of the United States as “one of the most attractive growth markets for offshore wind in the world”.

While it has potential, the US is still a long way from catching up with other parts of the world in terms of scale.

The country’s first offshore wind farm – the 30 MW Block Island wind farm with five turbines, operated by the Danish company Orsted – was not commissioned until the end of 2016.

For comparison: There are a number of large offshore wind projects in Europe. Last November, Orsted announced that the Borssele 1 & 2 752 MW offshore facility is fully functional and claims it could provide enough power for 1 million households.

In the plans drawn up towards the end of last year, the European Union stated that its offshore wind capacity should reach 300 gigawatts by the middle of the century.

While both Equinor and BP seek to develop more renewable energy projects, they remain key players in the oil and gas sector.