Shell Acquires Floating Offshore Wind Developer

Rendering courtesy EOLFI

Published Nov 5, 2019 4:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

Royal Dutch Shell has aquired the French floating offshore wind developer EOLFI, expanding the oil company's reach in offshore renewable energy. The move gives Shell an opportunity to follow Norwegian oil major Equinor into the high-potential market of deep-water wind development. 

EOLFI has a staff of 65 in its offices in Paris, Lorient, Marseilles and Montpellier. They have developed over 200 onshore and offshore renewable energy projects in five countries. EOLFI has a legacy in onshore renewables as well, but its primary aim is currently focused on floating offshore wind power.

EOLFI and its partners are developing a pilot floating wind project off the coast of Brittany. Pending approvals, this project will see the installation of three wind turbines on semi-submersible floats in water depth where fixed turbine foundations are not suitable. The development of floating wind technology could open up access to more site locations, including zones further from shore with stronger, more stable wind speeds. The global resource potential is enormous, and oil majors are well-placed to capitalize on its development because of their technical experience with offshore operations.  

Statoil (now Equinor) developed the world's first operational floating wind farm, Hywind, at a location off Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 2017, and it believes the technology is ready for widespread commercial deployment. Danish trading house Danske Commodities recently said that it would buy Hywind's power production for the next two decades, validating the concept's commercial potential. Equinor is now developing an eleven-turbine floating wind farm, Hywind Tampen, to supply its Gullfaks and Snorre oil fields with renewable energy.

Other contenders are looking to break into the new market as well. California-based developer Principle Power is working on a similar three-turbine floating wind installation off the coast of Portugal, with backing from Norwegian offshore engineering company Aker Solutions. In Japan, solar power company Shizen Energy has signed an agreement with another French floating offshore wind firm, Ideol, for a new wind farm off Kyushu.