RWE, Total, BP among winners in UK offshore wind farm auction

LONDON (Reuters) - RWE, BP and Total were among winners in Britain’s first major auction of offshore wind farm leases in more than a decade, British authorities said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A dog runs on the beach in front of the Redcar Wind Farm in Teesside, Britain November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Lee Smith

Countries across the globe are racing to build up green power in order to slow global warming in line with the Paris climate accord. Britain plans to generate a third of its electricity from offshore wind by 2030 as part of its own efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It had the largest offshore wind market in the world with around a third of all installed offshore wind capacity at the end of 2020, followed by Germany with 24% and China with 23%, according to analysts at Rystad.

A total of six projects, representing just under 8 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, were successful in the auction. If built, they could provide enough electricity to power about 7 million homes, said the Crown Estate, which is responsible for waters around England and Wales.

BP, in its first move into Britain’s offshore wind market, won two sites representing a total of 3 GW jointly with German regional utility EnBW, paying more than bidders for other areas in what Bernstein analysts called a “highly contested race”.

A source at Royal Dutch Shell, which places less importance than BP on owning renewables power infrastructure, said it had taken part in the round, but added its offer was “nowhere close” to BP’s.

“These are highly advanced assets… it’s location, location, location,” BP’s low carbon energy chief Dev Sanyal told Reuters, pointing to the lease’s shallow water 30 km from the coast, which will lower transmission costs and reduce the environmental impact.

Sanyal expected a final investment decision (FID) on the windfarms to be taken in 2025, but said it was too early to say how much the development would cost. BP and EnBW will each pay around £1 billion ($1.37 billion) in fees for the project before the FID, in four annual payments of £231 million for each of the two leases.

BP aims to ramp up renewable power generation to 50 GW by 2030 from 3.3 GW now at returns of 8-10%, while slashing oil output.

A source at another major that took part in the auction said they had calculated a lower rate of return, saying BP’s price and volatility expectations were “radically higher”.

RWE, Germany’s largest power producer and Europe’s third-largest renewables firm after Iberdrola and Enel, was confirmed as preferred bidder for two sites with total potential capacity of 3 GW.

The average price RWE was awarded to lease seabed was 82,552 pounds per megawatt (MW) per year, the lowest awarded price during the auction, the company said.

A venture of French oil major Total and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group secured the rights to a 1.5 GW project off Britain’s East Anglian coast.

Offshore Wind Limited, a venture of Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios and Flotation Energy, secured a 480 MW site.

Crown Estate Scotland carries out separate auctions for the waters around the Scottish coast.

Below is a table of the winning bids.

($1 = 0.7294 pounds)

($1 = 0.7307 pounds)

Reporting by Susanna Twidale in London, additional reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Ron Bousso; Editing by Edmund Blair and Susan Fenton and Kirsten Donovan