Reuters has reported on an intriguing situation of two overlapping projects in the North Sea, one the Endurance carbon capture and storage venture by BP, the other the Hornsea Four offshore windfarm by Ørsted.
Both have potential benefits in the campaign to mitigate climate change, and both were granted preliminary licences by the UK government more than 10 years ago, but the areas they were to be built upon overlap by some 110 square kilometres. (Ørsted received preliminary permission in 2010, one year before BP’s.) At the time of permitting, the overlap was not seen as a definite problem, as the windfarm could sit on top of the storage site and technology could evolve, but a dispute is now brewing, the devil being in the details.
Last year, the North Sea Transition Authority concluded that large overlaps of this kind are unfeasible with current technology, with there being a risk that carbon dioxide leakage monitoring (by boat) could collide with the fixings of wind turbines. Though BP could possibly install boat-free monitoring, and Ørsted could reduce the size of its wind, both options would reduce the commercial prospects of the companies’ respective projects, making both unwilling to alter them.
The situation is delaying both projects, which for the UK’s climate targets is highly unhelpful, and with so many projects underway or planned for the North Sea, it may not be the last such dispute.