The firm helping to construct the world’s largest offshore windfarm in the North Sea visited the island this week to discuss local potential with politicians and other senior stakeholders.
Equinor, a Norway based oil, gas, and renewables firm, pioneered a floating wind farm off Scotland, with its output success leading the UK Government to commit to generate 1GW through floating farms by 2030.
Its representatives spent two days this week speaking with relevant parties that would need to be engaged for such a project including environmental assessors, planners, the Harbormaster’s office, civil servants, and energy bosses.
Guernsey’s senior committee set up a sub-group following the publications to lead further investigations.
The deputies leading Policy & Resources’ offshore wind “task and finish group” – Carl Meerveld, David de Lisle, and Chris Blin – claim such a project could bring in billions worth of investment.
Pictured: Deputy Meerveld and de Lisle say more companies are interested in the renewable opportunities in the Bailiwick's territorial waters.
Deputy Meerveld told Express it represents “a huge opportunity for Guernsey to get inward investment to develop a commercial scale wind farm as wind farm that could produce enough electricity for millions of houses.
“So, we would end up being a net clean energy producer for potentially a large chunk of France or England, and Guernsey would get revenue from that.
“We've now progressed to a stage where we are ready to start talking with institutions like Equinor about the practicalities of actually taking this down the line and producing it."
Deputy Meerveld added that many technical details need to be established – such as what lies below the seabed – but firm’s like Equinor offer start to finish packages including the preparatory work and construction.
Halfdan Brustad, Vice-President of Equinor’s UK Renewables division, said wind power has been proven effective in the UK, with cost becoming increasingly competitive in the energy market, and for consumers too.
He added that wholesale energy prices would need to be worked out with France and England, but the geopolitical situation in Europe means “the search for energy is very high”.
Pictured: Tidal power is not currently commercially viable.
Deputy De Lisle said the reports had resulted from the fact that he “was quite frustrated in the lack of initiative and movement with regard to renewable industry and the fact that we had fallen behind in other jurisdictions from this point of view".
He added that the island should move “quickly” as “time is of the essence".
Environment & Infrastructure’s long-awaited Electricity Strategy will be published on 5 June and outline what the future energy needs are and options for how to meet them.
Deputy Meerveld said the work undertaken by the group would “dovetail” with this strategy.
The initial wind scoping report came in for heavy criticism from Chamber of Commerce board member Rupert Dorey who said it lacked detail and credibility.
“There is little evidence supporting the commercial viability of such a project. The report appears to rely on the [Offshore Wind Group’s] perception of the goodwill of the developer to not only pay a handsome up-front licensing fee but also to offer Guernsey discounted electricity as well,” he said.
Mr Dorey said a second electricity interconnector to France, as favoured by Guernsey Electricity, would take up to five years to complete, while an offshore wind farm, by the report’s own admission, would take more than a decade if started immediately.
“The OWG are setting themselves up to be on the receiving end of a very disappointed population when their grandiose plans are found to be falling far short of expectations. That is no way to run a cohesive Energy Strategy or to deliver an effective Infrastructure project.”