National Grid signs JV with RWE to target US offshore wind

By Dominic Ellis
National Grid embarks on joint venture with RWE Renewables to target US offshore wind opportunities

National Grid and RWE Renewables have signed a partnership agreement to develop offshore wind projects jointly in the coastal region of the US Northeast. 

Both companies share a common goal of enabling the clean energy future, and offshore wind will be critical for the USA to reduce emissions, meet climate goals and create jobs. National Grid Ventures, the non-regulated division of National Grid, and RWE will be working together to explore opportunities, including a joint bid in the upcoming New York Bight seabed lease auction.

"We're very pleased to partner with RWE as we take our first steps towards developing offshore wind projects in the Northeast U.S.," said Cordi O'Hara, President of National Grid Ventures. "This partnership further solidifies National Grid's role in advancing a clean, fair and affordable energy future and will also complement our growing onshore renewables business, which includes a strong pipeline of solar, wind and battery storage projects across the country."

National Grid will bring local expertise in the Northeast along with its experience developing large-scale infrastructure projects, including industry-leading subsea cable capabilities from its portfolio of interconnectors that facilitate the transfer of renewable energy between the UK and Europe.

RWE will draw on its experience in global offshore wind project development across the value chain, from project conception to construction and operation. Currently the company is constructing the 857MW offshore wind farm Triton Knoll off the English Coast and the 342MW project Kaskasi off the German island Heligoland. Furthermore, RWE has taken the investment decision for its 1,4GW project Sofia, one of the largest offshore wind farms globally.

Kaskasi, set to provide 400,000 households with green electricity from Q4 2022, will be the first commercial offshore wind farm to use the improved installation method for driving the wind turbine foundations into the seabed to target penetration depth. The innovative vibro pile driving technology significantly speeds up the process of installing the foundations, is gentler in its impact on the structure and produces far less noise.

RWE Renewables has also partnered with Facebook and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to realize a 150MW solar facility in Shelby County, Tennessee. Facebook will use 110MW of the solar energy to support its data center operations in Gallatin, and the broader Tennessee Valley. 

"Our partnership with National Grid represents an exciting milestone for RWE as we further grow our renewable energy business in the U.S.," said Sven Utermöhlen, Chief Operating Officer, Offshore Wind Global for RWE Renewables. "While we are an established presence in the US with our onshore wind, solar and storage activities, this partnership will support RWE's plans to realize a sizeable position in the offshore wind space. We look forward to working with National Grid to advance the clean energy transition in the US."

US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently approved the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project, the first large-scale, offshore wind project in the US (click here). The US East Coast is one of the most promising regions for offshore wind, with more than 1,200 miles of coastline, spanning from Maine to North Carolina, in proximity to areas of high power demand, according to McKinsey.

Renewable electricity is now a major focus for National Grid which has nailed its colours firmly to the electricity mast after buying Western Power Distribution (WPD) for £7.8 billion and selling its majority share in National Grid Gas (click here).

Operating profit was down 5% to £3.3 billion in the year ending March 31, primarily driven by the impact of COVID-19, in results released yesterday.

John Pettigrew, Chief Executive, said: "In the past year we have successfully navigated the challenges of COVID-19, delivered over £5 billion of capital investment and achieved a solid underlying financial performance. National Grid has an exciting future, with numerous opportunities in the UK and US to provide energy security and support the delivery of net zero." Nicola Shaw, UK Executive Director, will step down from the Board at the end of the company's AGM on July 26.

National Grid also announced the arrival of ‘Edith’ yesterday, a tunnel boring machine (TBM) weighing around 140 tonnes, at its London Power Tunnels (LPT) New Cross site as part of its £1 billion flagship project to rewire South London. Edith will construct 32.5km of tunnels deep below the streets of  Wimbledon and Crayford. 


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