Shell enters floating gigawatt project


The oil firm acquires the controlling share of an Irish company planning a 300-MW floating facility with potential to reach 1 GW.

IRISH project developer Simply Blue Energy has divested 51 percent of the project firm behind floating wind farm Emerald to Shell. The oil company thereby acquires access to the dawning floating wind industry in Ireland. The project, sited in the Celtic Sea south of the island, will have an initial capacity of 300 MW, while the parties eye potential to expand to a gigawatt.

“This project could provide green power to consumers and businesses alike and contribute towards Shell’s ambition to be a net-zero emissions business by 2050, or sooner. Working alongside coastal communities to create shared value is key to success and this is why we have chosen and look forward to working with Simply Blue Energy who are rooted in the local community,” says Shell’s new Vice President of Offshore Wind Colin Crooks.

After having so far stagnated in offshore wind development while England and Scotland established their facilities, Ireland is now beginning its efforts. In 2019, the nation’s government set a goal for 3.5 GW in fixed-bottom offshore wind by 2030. In May, it named the projects expected to achieve this goal in the Irish Sea off the eastern coast.

A government program that launched in October contains a plan for how to bring the deep waters off the western Atlantic coast into play in the long term, with a potential for at least 30 GW; while the 2030 target was raised to 5 GW and the geographical area expanded to encompass the southern coast, too.

Alongside Celtic Sea Array and Inis Ealga, the Emerald project is placed right in the Celtic Sea south of Ireland, and appropriate for a floating wind project outside the city of Cork – although the turbines will balance upon steel foundations of the type developed by Principle Power, where Shell is already an investor.

Located 35-60 km offshore, the project will initially consist of 15-25 turbines, depending on size. Provided the 300 MW of the first phase are installed with only 15 units, arithmetic would suggest turbines with ratings of 20 MW. But the development does have some time ahead of it, since Emerald’s timetable, without being too specific, aims for power generation by no later than 2030.

English Edit: Jonas Sahl Jørgensen