Representatives from the firm helping to construct the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the North Sea breezed through Guernsey last week to discuss local potential which would mean “billions” in investment opportunities.
Following an invite from the island's Offshore Wind Opportunities 'Task and Finish Group', Equinor – a Norway-based oil, gas, and renewables firm – spent two days in Guernsey last week.
The firm spent their visit engaging in discussions with the relevant parties that would need to be involved in a wind farm project, including politicians, environmental assessors, planners, the Harbormaster’s office, civil servants, and energy bosses.
Equinor have also previously pioneered a floating wind farm off Scotland.
Guernsey's Offshore Wind Energy report, published late last year, suggested that construction of a 1,500 megawatt wind farm off their coast could attract inward investment into Guernsey of up to £5 billion and "generate tens of millions of pounds in annual option and lease fees for the States of Guernsey".
Deputy Meerveld told Express the project with Equinor represents "a huge opportunity for Guernsey to get inward investment to develop a commercial scale wind farm as wind farm that could produce enough electricity for millions of houses".
He added: "We would end up being a net clean energy producer for potentially a large chunk of France or England, and Guernsey would get revenue from that.
"We've now progressed to a stage where we are ready to start talking with institutions like Equinor about the practicalities of actually taking this down the line and producing it."
Deputy Meerveld explained that many technical details need to be established – such as what lies below the seabed – but firms like Equinor offer start-to-finish packages including the preparatory work and construction.
Halfdan Brustad, Vice-President of Equinor's UK Renewables division, said wind power has been proven effective in the UK, with cost becoming increasingly competitive in the energy market, and for consumers too.
He said the firm was "exploring the opportunity" for an offshore wind farm off Guernsey, but no formal application to build one has been submitted.
He added that wholesale energy prices would need to be worked out with France and England, but the geopolitical situation in Europe means "the search for energy is very high".
As of March 2023, Jersey's Government was establishing a "ministerial working group to explore opportunities for marine renewable projects", according to Environment Minister Deputy Jonathan Renouf.
He said at the time that the move would allow them to "work more collaboratively across the Channel Islands" on the development of tidal and wind energy sites.
Pictured: In July 2022, Deputy Renouf said there was "a significant opportunity" to generate electricity through wind, tidal and wave-based technologies.
Deputy Renouf previously said the Government was approaching the end of their first set of consultations with stakeholders for the Marine Spatial Plan, which will set out how the marine environment can be best used and protected.
He added: "Jersey already actively participates in a number of French working groups where renewable energy is a key topic due to the development of the St Brieuc wind farm in French territorial waters."
Ailes Marines vice-president Emmanuel Rollin – whose company is behind the development of the £2.1 billion Le Brieuc wind farm off the coast of Brittany – had also said his firm would be willing to join a similar venture in Jersey's territorial waters.
Pictured: The St Brieuc wind farm, visible from Jersey's coast, is on target to be completed this year, and will supply nearly 9% of Brittany's total electricity consumption.
The potential for a wind farm within Jersey's territorial waters was first floated in 2015 when the Crown relinquished its ownership of the foreshore and seabed.
An Offshore Wind Pre-Feasibility Study later found that Jersey had "significant offshore wind potential" and that extracting energy from 5% of the island's waters would meet over three times Jersey's current annual demand.
A "full-scale offshore renewable energy generation scheme" was then included under Policy ME6 in the Bridging Island Plan.
Last summer, the former head of Jersey Met renewed calls for a network of turbines off the island's west coast and Jersey Electricity began "accelerating research" into the site's development.
Jersey Electricity's CEO, Chris Ambler said "we are in a position to establish the economic viability" of a large-scale wind energy scheme.
The Carbon Neutral Roadmap estimates that work would begin on an offshore wind farm system between 2030 and 2040, and that from 2040 to 2050, 50% of Jersey's electricity would come from renewable energy generated in the island's territory.
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