Equinor, Norway's state oil company formerly known as Statoil, has faced criticism from environmentalists over its plans to drill the Great Australian Bight off the country's southern coast. A potential spill in the area would threaten the ecosystem and endanger the largest breeding populations of endangered southern right whales in the world.
In a "worst credible case discharge" scenario—which involves a "loss of well control" and subsea releases of crude oil for more than 100 days—the spill could impact Australia's entire southern coast and even reach as far north as Sydney, the document shows.
This map shown in this tweet is based on Equinor's modeling of 100 different spills in the Great Australian Bight between the October to May drilling season.
Oil spill in Great Australian Bight could reach as far as #Sydney, leaked #environment plan show… https://t.co/3WIS35qil8— Eugene Boisvert (@Eugene Boisvert)1542148981.0
"This leak should be the final nail in the coffin of Bight oil drilling," Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said in a press release. "Not only does it show that oil could drench a previously unimaginable area that would include iconic beaches such as Bondi and Manly, it also shows that oil companies have no plan for stopping such a leak should it occur."
Not only is the Great Australian Bight a significant southern right whale calving grounds, it's a feeding area for blue whales, humpback whales, orcas, sea lions and is one of Australia's most important fisheries, Greenpeace says.
Equinor's map shows how far an oil spill could spread in 60 days after the flow of oil was stopped by drilling a relief well to kill the impacted well. Under the worst case scenario, a "loss of well control" will release an average of 6,739 cubic meters of oil per day until the well is killed on day 102.
Greenpeace noted that the leaked document comes just days after the Australian regulator NOPSEMA released BP's Well Operations Management Plan, which showed that an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight could release more than twice the amount of crude oil that entered the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
THIS IS HUGE! #BP Abandons Drilling in the Great Australian Bight https://t.co/GQUjqtD5nO @greenpeaceusa @greenpeace @GreenPeaceAUS @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1476196098.0
What's more, the safety equipment would be unusable for more than a third of the year due to high waves, Greenpeace determined.
"BP's plan showed that not only would the high waves of the Bight make the use of a capping stack impossible but they also said it was 'highly unlikely' a second rig could be found to drill a relief well and 'kill' the leak," Pelle explained.
The BP plan said that a capping stack cannot be used in seas above 3.5 meters. Greenpeace obtained data from the Australian bureau of meteorology that said the sea-state is above 3.5 meters 33.6 percent of the year.
Equinor Australia country manager Jone Stangeland told ABC Australia the leaked document was part of an unfinished environment plan distributed to state governments.
He explained that the map was "based on an extremely unlikely worst-case event, simulated 100 times in different weather conditions and without any response action taken."
"The images don't represent an actual scenario, but the combination of 100 different extremely unlikely worst-case scenarios," he added. "For Equinor, no oil spills are acceptable, and we will not go ahead until we are convinced we can drill safely."
Disastrous BP Oil Spill 'Flattened' Microbe Biodiversity in Gulf https://t.co/DuaZkGRN9u @NRDC @UCSUSA @350 @foe_us @greenpeaceusa— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1530283164.0
Two people boarded the rig at the Skipavik yard on Norway's west coast Thursday morning and have requested a meeting with the rig's captain.
Another 10 activists are in the water with signs that say, "Same shit, new wrapping," in reference to Statoil, Norway's biggest petroleum company, that wants to change its name to "Equinor."
The protesters are there "to ensure the rig does not leave port," Truls Gulowsen, the head of Greenpeace in Norway, told Reuters.
"We are prepared to stay as long as necessary," he added.
Kayaktivists from Greenpeace Norway have boarded the oil rig West Hercules in a fjord off the west coast of Norway.Greenpeace
Statoil contracted the West Hercules semisubmersible rig set to drill two exploration wells in the Barents Sea this summer.
Earlier this year, Greenpeace and other groups lost a climate case against the Norwegian government for granting new oil drilling licenses in the Arctic ocean, claiming that such activity violates people's right to a healthy environment and breaches the Paris agreement.
An appeal was launched soon after. Greenpeace demands that Statoil suspend all drilling until a final verdict is reached.
"The amount of oil and gas that has already been found is more than the climate can withstand, so it is pointless and dangerous to look for more. Nevertheless, Statoil is preparing for a massive oil exploration operation in the Barents Sea," said Gulowsen in a statement.
Greenpeace has labeled Statoil's name-change as "greenwashing."
"Whatever they call themselves, oil will still stain their name if they continue to pursue drilling in the Barents Sea and are involved in several highly controversial oil projects around the world," said Gulowsen.
"They must cancel plans for exploration drilling at Korpfjell and Gjøkåsen over the summer, for the climate and environmental reasons, and also because the oil wells are subject to a legal challenge."
Statoil said the protest would not affect operations.
"There's a contract for upcoming work, but we haven't begun any operations yet in that regard. It's from this summer and onwards," spokesman Morten Eek told Reuters.
[email protected] Activists Interrupt Operations at an #Arctic Oil Drilling Site https://t.co/2KmvhrdB28 @greenpeaceusa @RobertKennedyJr #EndOil— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1502987905.0
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Andy Rowell
First came BP, which went from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. Then Denmark's Dong Energy changed its name to Orsted, to mark its departure from oil and gas. Then earlier this year Shell announced it was morphing from an oil company into an integrated energy company.
And now, the Norwegian company Statoil is proposing to change its name to "Equinor." The rebranding exercise—or what some may call greenwashing exercise—will cost as much as 250 million kroner or $32 million.
The name change, says Statoil, "supports the company's strategy and development as a broad energy company." The name Equinor, in case you are wondering, is formed according to Statoil "by combining 'equi,' the starting point for words like equal, equality and equilibrium, and "nor," signaling a company proud of its Norwegian origin, and who wants to use this actively in its positioning."
Despite the fancy name, it transpired that it originated from an Oslo veterinary practice specializing in horses, but somehow it must have resonated with the oil company's spin doctors. They have even made a slick video to promote the name change.
"The world is changing, and so is Statoil," said Jon Erik Reinhardsen, chair of the board of Statoil. "The biggest transition our modern-day energy systems have ever seen is underway, and we aim to be at the forefront of this development. Our strategy remains firm. The name Equinor reflects ongoing changes and supports the always safe, high value and low carbon strategy we outlined last year."
The company's CEO Eldar Sætre added, "Looking towards the next 50 years, reflecting on the global energy transition and how we are developing as a broad energy company, it has become natural to change our name. The name Equinor captures our heritage and values, and what we aim to be in the future."
"I don't expect Equinor to be love at first sight for everyone," he added. "Give it a little time, let it mature. I feel very confident that this is right and important for the company to do."
The company's hierarchy will propose the new name to shareholders at Statoil's AGM on May 15. The Norwegian government, which is a majority shareholder in the company, supports the proposal and will vote in favor of the resolution.
Not everyone was convinced. As Bloomberg reported, "Oil majors aren't famed for their pranks, but Statoil ASA had analysts checking it wasn't April Fool's Day when it announced a new name that turned out to have been acquired from an Oslo veterinary practice specializing in horses." Bloomberg reported that the SpareBank 1 Markets analyst Teodor Sveen Nilsen said in a note to clients, "We checked the calendar. It's not April 1."
Reaction on social media was mixed, too, as people picked up on the origins of the word: "Equinor sounds like a princess on a horse in Game of Thrones," one Twitter user said. "Equi" is the genitive singular in Latin for "horse," noted another.
Statoil is just repeating history. Years ago, a book on countering corporate greenwash, edited by Eveline Lubbers, noted that BP's "rebranding was part of an effort to portray BP as an energy company, not just an oil company." Critics noted that the rebranding, which cost BP $200 million and was designed by Ogilvy & Mather, was a greenwashing exercise. Years later BP remains predominantly an oil and gas company.
Statoil's rebranding looks like greenwashing, too. Buried deep in the company's press release last week, Statoil stated that it "will develop long-term value on the Norwegian continental shelf, deepen in core areas and develop new growth options internationally …. Statoil is building a material industrial position within profitable renewable energy, and expects to invest 15-20% of total capex in new energy solutions by 2030." Put another way, in twelve year's time, some 80 percent of the company's capex will still be oil and gas.
Given the climate crisis and need to disinvest from oil and gas, this is hardly a revolutionary shift. So the company may be called "Equinor," but it will still essentially be Statoil to its core. So it really does look like an early April Fool's joke.
World's Biggest Investment Fund Considers Divesting From Fossil Fuels https://t.co/X9Ynl45yTZ @GreenCollarGuy @350 @billmckibben— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1511060103.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
The world's first floating wind farm only switched on three months ago but it's already performing better than expected—and that's despite a hurricane, a powerful winter storm and waves as high as 8.2 meters (27 feet).
The 30-megawatt Hywind Scotland, located about 15 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast, churned out 65 percent of its maximum theoretical capacity during November, December and January, according to its operator, Statoil.
In comparison, the typical capacity factor for a bottom fixed offshore wind farm is 45-60 percent during the same winter months, Statoil pointed out.
"We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works," said Beate Myking, senior vice president of offshore wind operations in Statoil.
"It is very encouraging to see how well the turbines have performed so far. Hywind Scotland's high availability has ensured that the volume of electricity generated is substantially higher than expected."
These results show great promise for the emerging technology. As EcoWatch previously detailed, floating turbines have been deployed before, but mostly in small-scale projects, such as the 7-megawatt system built and operated by the Fukushima Wind Offshore Consortium. In contrast, the Hywind's five floating turbines produce 6 megawatts each on top of waters more than 328 feet deep. At full capacity, the facility can generate enough power for 20,000 homes.
As Bloomberg explained, typical offshore wind farms are installed on seabeds in relatively shallow seas. But with a floating system, countries like Japan, the U.S. West Coast, and the Mediterranean—where seabeds drop steeply off the coast—can also utilize the technology.
Statoil sees "great potential" to build more floating wind farms on top of waters around 200 feet in depth, even in areas with extreme environments and weather conditions. In October, the Hywind survived Hurricane Ophelia's 77 mph winds. It then faced even stronger winds in December, with Storm Caroline's 100 mph gusts and walls of large waves. Although the farm's wind turbines were shut down during the worst of these winds, they automatically resumed operations afterwards, Statoil said.
"Knowing that up to 80 percent of the offshore wind resources globally are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, we see great potential for floating offshore wind, in Asia, on the west coast of North America and in Europe," said Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for New Energy Solutions in Statoil.
The developers are looking to expand the technology and hope to reduce the costs of energy to €40-60 ($50-$75)/MWh by 2030, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources. The cost of onshore and offshore wind has seen significant reductions in recent years, with the UK's latest renewable energy auction dropping to 57.50 pounds ($76) per megawatt-hour, Bloomberg noted.
"This is an ambitious, but realistic target. Optimized design, larger and more efficient turbines, technology development and larger wind parks will drive down costs, improve infrastructure and logistics," Rummelhoff said.
#Wind Turbines Supplied 99% of Scotland Electricity Demand Last Month https://t.co/bv0YgKHdBY @350 @greenpeaceusa @foe_us @ClimateNexus— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1510077093.0
By David Leestma
The lawsuit, which focuses on local environmental damage and the contribution that oil extraction will make to climate change, challenges 10 licenses issued by the Norwegian government for exploration in the Barents Sea. Given to Statoil, Chevron and other oil companies, the licenses violate Norway's constitution and the Paris agreement, according to the plaintiffs. Government lawyers claim the case is a publicity stunt that risks valuable jobs.
Dovetailing with an emerging legal trend, the case was inspired by climate litigation brought to courts in the U.S., Netherlands, Switzerland and New Zealand. In Norway, the plaintiffs are holding the government to a law, known as Section 112, that states: "Everyone has the right to an environment that safeguards their health and to nature where production ability and diversity are preserved. Natural resources must be managed from a long-term and versatile consideration which also upholds this right for future generations."
Over the course of the case, which will likely last two weeks, the state is expected to claim that the plaintiff's reading of Section 112 is too sweeping and that Norway doesn't have a legal responsibility for emissions of oil and gas exports. Norway is already the seventh largest CO2 emissions exporter in the world, according to a recent report.
During opening statements, the state's attorney referred to the case as "constitutional activism" and a "performance." He warned that the lawsuit, if successful, "would stop all future oil licenses awarded off Norway and would imperil hundreds of thousands of jobs."
Onlookers and activists filled the Oslo district court's biggest courtroom on Tuesday, highlighting the profile of the case. A former Supreme Court judge, Ketil Lund, is advising plaintiffs, a move that further emphasizes the case's significance.
Greenpeace insists global fossil fuel companies already have discovered more oil and gas than can safely be burned.
The Paris agreement, to which Norway is a signatory, seeks to limit global warming to under 3.6°F (2°C).
The 30 megawatt wind farm, operated by Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., consists of five turbines and is located 25 kilometers offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
"This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland," the First Minister continued. "Our support for floating offshore wind is testament to this government's commitment to the development of this technology and, coupled with Statoil's Battery Storage Project, Batwind, puts us at the forefront of this global race and positions Scotland as a world center for energy innovation."
Batwind, a Lithium battery that can store one megawatt-hour of power, is linked to the Hywind to help mitigate intermittency and optimize output.
As Bloomberg noted, typical offshore wind farms are installed on seabeds in relatively shallow seas. The advantage of a floating system allows countries like Japan, the U.S. West Coast and Mediterranean—where seabeds drop steeply off the coast—to also utilize the technology.
"Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind," explained Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of the New Energy Solutions business area at Statoil.
The project cost about 200 million pounds ($263 million) to construct.
The cost of onshore and offshore wind has seen significant reductions in recent years, with the UK's latest renewable energy auction dropping to 57.50 pounds ($76) per megawatt-hour, Bloomberg noted.
Floating wind is expected to follow a similar downward trajectory over the next decade, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources, Statoil said.
"Statoil has an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to €40-60/MWh ($47-76) by 2030. Knowing that up to 80 percent of the offshore wind resources are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, floating offshore wind is expected to play a significant role in the growth of offshore wind going forward," Rummelhoff said.
Scotland has emerged as a clean energy all-star, with its wind turbines occasionally generating more electricity than is actually needed. This past March 17 and 19, wind turbines provided an output equivalent of 102 percent and 130 percent of each day's demand, respectively.
Last month, Scottish wind turbines provided 846,942 megawatt hours of electricity to the National Grid, enough to supply the power needs of 2.25 million, or 93 percent of Scottish households, according to WWF Scotland. That's 33 percent more homes than the same time last year, when wind energy provided 629,603 MWh, the environmental group noted.
#Scotland wind power has record-breaking month—enough power to supply 93% of Scottish households… https://t.co/I8pKxgGvgS— IRENA (@IRENA)1505658121.0
The Scottish government is actively working towards a low-carbon future, and announced earlier this month that fracking is set to be permanently banned following "overwhelming" public support for outlawing the controversial process.
Peaceful activists, including one American, from a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, have stalled Statoil's oil operations in the Barents Sea off the Norwegian coast. The activists entered the exclusion zone of Statoil's oil rig, Songa Enabler in the Barents Sea with kayaks and inflatable boats, while swimmers protested in the water with banners.
The activists plan to sustain the peaceful protest to stall Statoil's oil drilling as long as possible to send a message that the Norwegian government is failing its commitments to Norway's constitution and the Paris agreement. They are also displaying a constructed giant globe in front of the rig with written statements to the government.
Thirty-five activists from 25 countries are escalating a peaceful protest after tailing the rig for one month in the Barents Sea.
The Norwegian government has recently opened up a new oil frontier in the Arctic. The state-owned oil company has just started to drill for oil at the Korpfjell well, a controversial site 415 kilometers from land. It is close to the ice edge and an important feeding areas for seabirds. This is the first opening of new areas for oil drillings in 20 years and it is the northernmost area licensed by Norway.
Kayaktivists ( pictured left to right ), Hanna Jauhiainen of Finland, Miriam Friedrich from Austria, Andreas Widlund form Sweden, and Dalia Kellou from Austria.Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace
The Norwegian government granted new oil licenses, as part of the 23rd license round, in the Arctic last summer, just 10 days after they ratified the Paris agreement.
"As an American and global citizen, Trump's decision to retreat from the Paris climate agreement and boost fossil fuels at the expense of people around the world was devastating. Likewise, we see the Norwegian government opening new oil areas in the Arctic at full throttle, in spite of knowing the dangers it will have for future generations," Britt Baker, Greenpeace USA activist, said.
"The major difference between the situation in the U.S and Norway is that Trump left the Paris agreement with tunnel-vision motives to extend handouts to the flailing fossil fuel industry. Norway may as well have left the Paris agreement given the Norwegian's government desire to accelerate fossil fuel production. This government is showing the same disrespect to global climate commitments as Trump," Baker added.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is in the Norwegian Arctic to document, expose and challenge the Norwegian government and Statoil's aggressive search for new oil in the Barents Sea. Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace
Greenpeace and its co-plaintiff Nature and Youth are taking the government to court in November, arguing that the new oil licenses are in breach of the Norwegian Constitution's right to a healthy environment (Article 112). Despite the ongoing legal case, Statoil is drilling several new oil wells in the Arctic this summer.
Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace
"Norway is not as green as their image. With one hand, the government have signed the Paris agreement and profiled themselves as an environmental champion, whilst handing out hundreds of new oil blocks in the Arctic with the other," Erlend Tellnes, Greenpeace Norway Arctic campaigner from on board the Arctic Sunrise, said.
"They ignore and disrespect environmental, scientific recommendations and have offered the oil industry licenses in some of the most pristine areas of the Arctic. Now they have to answer for their actions in court."
More than 150,000 people have joined the call in the past month to the Norwegian government to respect the Norwegian Constitution and the Paris agreement, bringing the total number to 355,000.
Watch Facebook Live video of the action here:
We won an #offshorewind lease with the opp. to potentially provide NYC + Long Island with #renewable electricity.… https://t.co/sy8airZTyp— Statoil (@Statoil)1481913232.0
Norway's biggest oil company will be developing an offshore wind farm outside of New York. Statoil submitted the winning bid of $42.5 million to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management last Friday to lease nearly 80,000 acres of federal waters roughly 14 miles off the coast of Long Island, the Huffington Post reported.
The company estimates that the leased area could host a 1,000-megawatt offshore wind farm, with the first phase of development expected to begin with 400 to 600 megawatts. The first plan of action is to survey seabed conditions which can be as deep as 131 feet, grid connection options and wind resources at the site.
"We now look forward to working with New York's state agencies and contribute to New York meeting its future energy needs by applying our offshore experience and engineering expertise," Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil's executive vice president for Statoil's renewable energy branch, New Energy Solutions, said in a statement.
New York state aims to generate 50 percent of its electricity needs from renewable resources by 2030 and is betting big on offshore wind to help meet that goal. The Long Island Power Authority, with the support of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is slated to approve a contract for a 90-megawatt offshore wind project 30 miles northeast of Montauk.
New York Approves Clean Energy Standard Mandating 50% of Power From Renewables by 2030 https://t.co/NnGky0upSL @GLOBENetCom— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1470089112.0
Offshore wind is resource begging to be tapped in the U.S., which has a projected 4,223 gigawatts of electric generating potential, LEEDCo estimated.
"The U.S. is a key emerging market for offshore wind—both bottom-fixed and floating—with significant potential along both the east and west coasts," Statoil's Rummelhoff said.
Still, the U.S. lags behind other countries in utilizing this form of emissions-free electricity. U.S. offshore wind development has faced a number of stumbling blocks, such as the embattled Cape Wind Project in Massachusetts that has stalled for more than a decade.
Europe, in comparison, has embraced this form of energy and developed several offshore wind farms projects, as the Huffington Post detailed:
"The United Kingdom alone gets about 5.1 gigawatts of electricity from 1,465 turbines operating at 27 separate wind offshore farms, according to data from the trade group Renewable UK. In 2012, Statoil completed its first commercial offshore wind farm, an 88-turbine project called Sheringham Shoal, off the eastern coast of England. That farm now powers up to 220,000 British homes. The company is building a second farm in deeper waters, roughly 20 miles off the North Norfolk coast in England, that is expected to produce enough power for up to 401,000 homes. Statoil's third British farm, set to begin production off the coast of Scotland next year, could become the world's first floating wind farm."
In fact, Europe's offshore wind is now cheaper than fossil fuels. According to The Guardian, the price for a megawatt hour is between €73-€140 ($76-$146) for offshore wind compared to €65-€70 ($68-$73) for gas and coal.
On a more positive note, America's first offshore wind farm—the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island developed Deepwater Wind—switched online just last week. And at least 10 other U.S. offshore wind projects are in development.
#ICYMI: On Monday, America's first offshore #wind power project began commercial operations. https://t.co/OzxkNwsOG7 by @NRDCKit @EcoWatch— NRDC (@NRDC)1481991843.0
The country's renewable energy sector as a whole has been buoyed by federal tax credits that help reduce the price of developing such costly technologies such as offshore wind. For instance, the $30 million Block Island wind farm is eligible for a tax credit worth 30 percent of the project's cost.
Wind farms, in particular, are a sore subject for the president-elect. Trump has waged legal battles against an offshore wind farm near his golf courses in Scotland because it was a "blight" on the view and once said "the wind kills all your birds."
That federal renewable energy subsidy is set to be lowered in 2019. An extension will require support from both Congress and the Trump administration.