Plans to build 10GW worth of offshore wind in the North Atlantic and connect it with the United Kingdom by undersea cables have been unveiled, starting off with a 2GW offshore wind farm to be built off the coast of Iceland to begin operations in 2025.
Hecate Independent Power (HIP), the company behind the lofty plan, is a part of Hecate Holdings, a leading US-based renewable developer founded in 2012 which has developed a pipeline of 1.4GW renewable PPAs and boasts an “active” renewable development pipeline of over 12GW.
HIP is chaired by Sir Tony Baldry, a former British energy minister under prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major. HIP has already lodged four connection applications with the UK’s national grid operator for an initial 4GW of grid connections to the UK’s 400kV electricity transmission system across four connection sites.
The £21 billion HIP Atlantic Project calls for the development and operation of 10GW of fixed and floating wind turbines in the North Atlantic, which will then be connected to the United Kingdom by long-length, high-capacity, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine power transmission cables.
Each wind farm – or “pod” as HIP insists on calling them – will be located in a different part of the North Atlantic Ocean, and each “pod” will consist of at least 1GW worth of wind turbines, with each “pod” having its own dedicated cable linked to the United Kingdom.
Further, full dispatch of the HIP offshore wind farms will be under the exclusive control of the UK’s National Grid Company, making the HIP Atlantic Project the United Kingdom’s first captive wind farm in overseas territorial waters.
In fact, the HIP Atlantic Project specifically states that the transmission cables will never connect to the Icelandic transmission system and will be solely for the use of the United Kingdom’s National Grid.
The first phase of development will consist of 2GW of generation capacity, set to be built off the southern and eastern coasts of Iceland, and which is expected to be commissioned in early 2025 to coincide with the UK’s shuttering of its last coal-fired power plants, and the last of its first generation of nuclear power plants.
Importantly, the HIP Atlantic Project is targeting development of offshore wind generation in a different meteorological catchment area from the current North Sea and Irish Sea wind farms.
This will, hopefully, mean that wind electricity can be generated and supplied to the UK electricity grid at all times – with the Atlantic-based wind farms potentially generating even if the North Sea and Irish Sea wind farms are not.
This will serve to provide a geographical portfolio effect intended to protect the UK transmission grid from too much offshore wind capacity installed in only one region.
“We will stretch the zone of British-operated wind generation outside of our traditional territorial waters, pushing the boundaries of existing cable technology to generate over 1,000 kms from our grid landfall points throughout England,” said Baldry, HIP’s Chairman.
In lieu of a focus on British job creation, the submarine power transmission cables will be manufactured in the United Kingdom at a £200 million bespoke power cable plant to be built at a port in the northeast of England.