Oil and gas supermajor Shell and Mitsubishi-owned Dutch utility Eneco have won the second part of the zero-subsidy Hollandse Kust West (VI) offshore wind tender with a bid that pledges to build the 756-megawatt array with as little impact as possible on birds, bats and underwater marine life.

A first 760 MW chunk of the zone, Hollandse Kust West (VII) in November was awarded to the RWE-led Oranje Wind Power consortium with a bid that as its distinguishing factor included a plan to set up hydrogen generation facilities.

As well as scoring with the promised eco-friendly qualitative criteria, Shell and Eneco’s ‘Ecowende’ joint venture will pay €50 million ($53 million) for the right to build and operate the wind project at some 50 kilometres off the port of Ijmuiden — a novelty in offshore wind that in the run-up to the tender had been harshly criticised by the industry.

Adding costs for environmental impact assessments and location studies paid by the consortium, the Dutch government will earn €63.5 million ($67.55 million).

Shell and Eneco have already taken a final investment decision for the wind farm, and plan to commission Hollandse Kust West (VI) in 2026.

“With Ecowende, we will take a huge step in growing our offshore wind portfolio while making a positive contribution to biodiversity,” said Shell’s director of integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions Wael Sawan, who is set to take over as chief executive of the supermajor at the end of the year.

“Through this project we can profitably accelerate the large-scale roll-out of offshore wind in the Netherlands and beyond,” Sawan added.

Eneco chief growth officer Kees-Jan Rameau added the two companies had gained a lot of knowledge in the area of ecology, and their bid was “entirely in line with our ambition to live and act within the natural limits of the planet."

Ecowende aims to set a new ecological benchmark for the development and construction of wind farms in the North Sea and to enable offshore wind farms to have a net positive impact on nature in the future.

Eneco added that due to major growth ambitions for offshore wind it is important that the technology’s boom will happen in a way that contributes to nature both above and below water.

The Netherlands’ climate and energy minister Rob Jetten stressed Shell and Eneco’s bid showed that wind farms can be built taking into account nature protection.

“That is necessary because there will be many more wind farms at sea to be able to supply sufficient green energy,” he said.

“With 40 innovative experiments and applications in this proposal, we are starting a movement to build offshore wind farms with minimal impact on nature.”

Shell and Eneco’s bid includes:
  • Creating a corridor for birds by placing wind turbines extra far apart;
  • Using innovative foundation techniques that minimise the impact on marine mammals and marine life;
  • Placing natural reef structures on the seabed to boost biodiversity; and
  • Together with a group of scientists and experts, implementing and evaluating dozens of innovative solutions for the currently missing knowledge on the ecological impact of offshore wind.
Source: Eneco

Shell and Eneco rival Orsted this year have also started to experiment with reef concepts at an offshore wind project in Taiwan.

(This article was first published by Upstream's sister renewable energy publication, Recharge.)