Dong Energy expands its wind portfolio to the US

Being “smarter from the start” is the key to successful offshore wind projects, says Dong Energy.
Published: Tue 23 May 2017

Dong Energy, Denmark’s largest energy company, has secured two leases in the US– Bay State and Ocean Wind, off the coasts of Massachusetts and New Jersey respectively. If the plans are approved, Bay State and Ocean Wind  are each expected to have an installed capacity in excess of 1,000MW.

The wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts will eventually generate enough electricity to meet the needs of almost 500,000 Massachusetts homes.

The energy company is using the expertise of SGC Engineering, a subsidiary of Lloyd’s Register, to conduct geophysical and hydrographic surveys. These will provide third party oversight to help ensure confidence in the data obtained from its wind farm sites and seabed route surveys.

DONG Energy wants to power the US

The utility has had its eyes on US for a while now. Realising its potential, DONG Energy officially opened its US headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts in April of this year.

DONG Energy entered the US offshore wind market in early 2015, when it took over RES Americas Developments Inc.’s (RES) development project rights for the site off the coast of Massachusetts. The rights had originally been assigned through an offshore wind auction held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, to RES Americas Development Inc. who will continue to support the development of the leased area.

The farm is located approximately 40km from shore and according to DONG Energy, the site conditions are quite similar to those the company works with in northwestern Europe which means that the project could be developed using well-known technology and logistics.

A draft policy bill to support the regulatory conditions for offshore wind has been introduced with the Massachusetts government aiming to provide a stable framework that will enable the build-out of projects and the creation of new jobs.

 

The US is of course no stranger to onshore wind power with around 66GW of capacity accounting for 4.4% of total consumption coming from this source by the end of 2014. But, despite huge potential, offshore wind has been slower getting off the blocks, says Thomas Brostrøm, General Manager North America, Wind Power for DONG Energy. “But things are starting to move now,” he says in a recent blog.

He added: “The move into the US market is an exciting prospect. It will allow us to broaden our geographical scope and follow the market potential outside our current footprint. I believe that DONG Energy can bring a lot of experience and expertise into a developing market place.”

Utility follows clean energy path to success  

The progress of Dong Energy’s transition to clean energy is remarkable, considering that its roots lie in fossil fuels-Dong stands for Danish Oil and Natural Gas.

The last decade has seen the company turn its attention to renewable energy. It is now one of the world’s biggest offshore wind farm companies, having developed over a quarter of the capacity in operation worldwide.

DONG Energy has developed an impressive portfolio of wind farms including the world’s first offshore wind farm, Vindeby, which was built 25 years ago. In total, the company operates 3,600MW offshore wind capacity across Germany, UK and Denmark. There is a further 3,800MW under construction, according to DONG Energy.

The latest European projects include the three offshore wind projects in the German North Sea and the Hornsea Project Two which will add 1.8GW to Britain's offshore wind capacity. Dong Energy announced recently that it will rely on wholesale market prices instead of extra government support for the projects in the German North Sea. This is a major milestone for the clean energy industry which has been relying heavily on government subsidies.

The company installed its 1,000th sea-based wind turbine in 2016. From 16% in 2007, the proportion of its capital tied up in wind farms grew rapidly to 75% in 2015.

Dong Energy is preparing to sell its oil and gas business this year after floating on the Copenhagen stock exchange in 2016.

Dong is also backing pioneering technology that turns household waste into electricity and has been converting coal power stations in its utility subsidiary to burn wood. Early this year, the company announced that its power stations would stop using coal altogether by 2023.

Jens Houe Thomsen, an analyst at Denmark’s Jyske Bank describes the company’s transformation as “astonishing”. He says: “It is hard to think of many other oil and gas companies that have made as big a shift as Dong has away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.”