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Shell gets OK to proceed with offshore wind project off New England

Houston Chronicle

Shell gets OK to proceed with offshore wind project off New England

A joint offshore wind venture spearheaded by Royal Dutch Shell and Ocean Winds North America has gained approval to build more offshore wind turbines off the New England coast that is expected to generate 400 megawatts.

The new turbines, part of the Mayflower project, will provide energy to Massachusetts’ three largest utilities. The energy produced by the newly approved turbines can generate enough electricity to power more than a half-million homes and businesses each day, Shell officials said in a statement.

Shell and OW have combined on two other offshore wind projects, approved in 2019, expected to produce 804 megawatts of power.

The announcement comes days after the Hague-based energy company said it plans to acquire solar and battery storage company Savion by the end of the year. The Kansas City-based company has more than 100 projects under development in 26 states capable of producing 18,000 megawatts of renewable power. One megawatt is enough to power about 200 homes on a hot summer day.

“This has been a significant week for our company and renewables businesses,” said Wael Sawan, Shell’s Integrated Gas and Renewables & Energy Solutions Director. “Announcing a substantial expansion of our global solar portfolio along with this considerable offshore wind contract award showcases Shell’s progress towards providing zero- and lower-carbon assets and technologies.”

The offshore wind venture marks the latest advancement as Shell pivots from its fossil-fuel business and expands its renewable energy portfolio. The company has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 as it faces increasing investor and government pressures to decarbonize. The company has said it will invest as much as $6 billion annually into renewables, while divesting about $4 billion a year from its oil-and-gas projects.

To that end, the company has set a goal to sell more than 560 terawatts hours of power annually across the world by 2030.

Offshore wind, however, remains an illusive technology.

Only two offshore wind farms are in operation in the United States, producing a combined 42 megawatts. Another 15 projects have reached the permitting phase, and eight states have set goals of developing enough offshore business to produce 39,298 megawatts by 2040, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The Biden Administration has set a goal of helping to develop 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind generation by 2030.

Despite those goals, challenges remain for the burgeoning industry. Offshore wind turbines have yet to face the major stress test of tropical storms, hurricanes and cyclones and building underwater transmission lines from the turbines to shore is also a challenge.

Paul Takahashi contributed to this report.

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