Equinor to develop offshore wind in China

China Power International and Equinor have signed a cooperation agreement on development of offshore wind farms in Europe as well as China.
Photo: Equinor
Photo: Equinor

Equinor is making giant strides in offshore wind these days. This summer's victory at the New York tender was followed by a subsidy agreement enabling establishment of the biggest floating wind farm in Norway, while last week British expansion by 3.6 GW ahead of 2025 was secured for the three Dogger Bank projects the Norwegian company co-owns.

Now Equinor follows up on a notoriously difficult market by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate with Chinese company China Power International Holding (CPIH) in China as well as Europe, the oil major announces.

"[China] is set to become the world’s biggest offshore wind market by 2030. As an offshore wind major, Equinor is excited to collaborate with CPIH to develop offshore wind," says Equinor Executive VP of New Energy Solutions Pål Eitrheim.

In China since 1982

The agreement, which was signed in Beijing on Wednesday, builds upon many years of Equinor's presence in China as an oil company. In 1997, the Lufeng field, operated in conjunction with state-owned Chinese oil company Cnooc, became the first field outside the North Sea operated by Equinor. Although extraction from this field ceased ten years ago, the company remains engaged in oil trade and upstream business in China.

China Power is one of the five major state-owned power companies in China. Despite a renewables capacity of about 6.5 GW, it remains a predominantly coal-fired company, while wind represents less than 3 percent of total output.

The nature, location and extent of the parties' cooperation is not evident from the MoU. However, the Chinese company deems the partnership "strategic" and emphasizes that the cooperation will be long-term.

6 GW per year

"We strongly believe the collaboration between CPIH and Equinor in China and Europe will bring vast experience, knowledge and expertise to the industry. We look forward to deepen this partnership and develop a sustainable energy business together with our partner in both domestic and overseas markets," says CPIH President Jun Tian.

The Chinese offshore wind market has taken off in earnest and is probably the world's biggest single market already at this point. According to Global Wind Energy Council's latest forecast, this year will see expansion by 3.5 GW, corresponding to 43 percent of global installation, while annual expansion over the coming decade is expected to grow to 6 GW. Or more than 50 GW during the decade.

While the Chinese market for onshore wind is mostly closed-off to foreign companies, the offshore wind market can look a bit different – even if major deals conventionally demand a Chinese partner; for instance, Siemens Gamesa sells its offshore turbines to dominating Chinese producer Sewind on a license.

Conversely, there aren't many Chinese wind turbines on European markets. However, some of the major Chinese utilities have already entered offshore wind as co-owners and co-developers. So far, this entry has been led by China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG), which co-owns the UK's Moray East, among others, and SDIC, whose Scottish project Inch Cape, however, wasn't among the winners of last week's CfD round.

English Edit: Jonas Sahl Jørgensen

Labour proposes 52 GW of UK offshore wind by 2030 

Equinor declares itself "offshore wind major" after CfD victory  

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