French energy major Total has signed an agreement to develop 12 utility-scale solar and energy storage projects in the U.S., announcing the deal Jan. 14, the same day the company said it has joined with Spain’s Iberdrola in a bid for one of the world’s largest offshore wind projects.
The moves continue Total’s diversification from oil and gas into renewable power generation and electricity distribution. It’s part of a trend of oil and gas companies investing in offshore wind and other renewables. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the largest-ever award of offshore wind contracts by a U.S. state, including two projects from oil majors Equinor and BP. The two installations would have combined generation capacity of almost 2.5 GW.
The U.S. solar and energy storage projects announced Thursday are included in a 50-50 joint venture between Total and 174 Power Global, a wholly owned Hanwha Group affiliate. The companies will develop the dozen projects that have cumulative generation capacity of 1.6 GW and are currently part of 174 Power Global’s development pipeline.
The first project is already online—it entered service last year—and the remainder are expected to begin operation between 2022 and 2024. The projects are located in Virginia, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, and Wyoming, in addition to Hawaii.
“This transaction is a first significant step for Total in the U.S. utility scale solar market, in line with our 2025 ambition to achieve 35 GW of renewables production capacity worldwide. I am confident that this will pave the way to more opportunities in the U.S. renewables and storage market,” said Julien Pouget, Director Renewables of Total. “I am very pleased to extend our long-standing cooperation with the Hanwha Group into renewable energies and successfully contribute to the development of solar power generation in the U.S.”
“We are pleased to partner with Total and see significant opportunities for our JV to expand our solar and energy storage footprint,” said Henry Yun, 174 Power Global president and CEO. “Both 174 Power Global and Total have a strong understanding of one another’s business strategies and investment standards. This is a great partnership, and we are excited to work with the Total team and further our joint commitment to clean renewable energy and low-carbon investments.”
Total, founded in 1924, is a longtime oil and gas exploration major that in recent years has begun building a portfolio of renewable energy projects. The company has an announced goal of building its renewables and electricity business to make up as much as 40% of its portfolio by 2050. The company at the end of 2020 had 12 GW of power generation capacity installed worldwide, including about 7 GW of renewable energy. The company has said it wants to have at least 35 GW of electricity production from renewable resources by 2025.
Total on Wednesday announced a cooperation agreement with ENGIE to design, develop, build, and operate the Masshylia project, France’s largest renewable hydrogen production site at Châteauneuf-les-Martigues in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur South region. The project, powered by solar farms, will be located at Total’s La Mède biorefinery, and have total production capacity of more than 100 MW. The project’s 40-MW electrolyzer will produce 5 metric tons of green hydrogen daily to meet the needs of the biofuel production process at the biorefinery.
Danish Offshore Wind Farm
Total and Iberdrola on Thursday said they have joined in a bid for Denmark’s Thor wind farm, one of the world’s largest offshore wind power projects. The Danish Energy Agency on Thursday announced it has pre-qualified a total of six consortia and companies to participate in the tender for the farm, which is expected to conclude by the end of the year.
The Thor installation, which will be located in the North Sea, at least 20 kilometers from shore, could have as much as 1 GW of generation capacity and is expected to be connected to the grid between 2025 and 2027. Along with Total and Iberdrola, the other groups applying to bid for the project include Ørsted, Vattenfall, and Thor Wind Farm I/S, which is owned by RWE Wind Holding A/S and RWE Offshore Wind A/S.
Other pre-qualified applicants are a joint venture of SSE Renewables Offshore Windfarm Holdings Limited, and Thor OFW K/S, which is owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure IV Thor OFW ApS and Andel Holding A/S; and Swan Wind P/S, which is a joint venture between Eneco Wind B.V. and European Energy A/S.
The Danish Energy Agency said all six of the applications it received to pre-qualify for the project met the established criteria for financial and technical capacity. The six groups have until mid-March to submit their preliminary bids, with the negotiation process expected in April. The Danish Energy Agency said it will publish revised tendering conditions and call for final bids in August, with that period open until November. The winning bid will be announced in early December.
Janni Torp Kjaergaard, deputy director for the Danish Energy Agency, said, “It is a strong set of players that has applied to be pre-qualified to bid for building Thor Offshore Wind Farm. This confirms that Denmark remains an attractive country when it comes to investments in offshore wind. Furthermore, the great interest is crucial for a cost-effective green transition.”
Denmark plans to have the grid connection for the Thor offshore wind farm ready by the start of 2025, with the installation fully built and connected to the grid by year-end 2027. The Thor concession winner will carry out the installation of the offshore wind farm, including the offshore substation, and the grid connection from the offshore substation to the substation on land. The project’s license will be granted for 30 years of electricity production, with a possible extension of five years.
Thor is the first project to be tendered of the three large-scale offshore wind farms that the Danish government decided to establish before 2030, as part of the country’s Energy Agreement announced n 2018.
New York Projects
The offshore projects announced Wednesday by New York State officials include Beacon Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2, which will follow Equinor’s previously announced Empire Wind 1. BP last September announced it was taking a 50% stake in both Empire Wind and Beacon Wind; Equinor would hold the remaining half-interest.
Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday is part of New York’s broader plan to scale up renewable power over the next decade. Cuomo, who has been making a series of State of the State speeches that include energy projects, has called the state’s development of renewables a “prime economic opportunity and a pressing moral imperative.” The state has a mandate of procuring 70% of its power from renewables by 2030, and 100% from carbon-free sources by 2040.
Equinor CEO Anders Opedal on Wednesday said the latest projects are “a game-changer for our offshore wind business in the U.S.”
—Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).