Italian oil and gas major Eni has partnered with developer Mainstream Renewable Power as it looks to build up a portfolio of wind, solar and energy storage assets.

Separately on Wednesday, Norwegian oil giant Equinor revealed a partnership with China Power International Holding to develop offshore wind projects in Europe and China.

The Eni partnership will focus on the U.K. initially before expanding out to Africa and Southeast Asia. The fourth round of the U.K.’s offshore wind auctions is firmly in the pair’s sights. Following increased competition and record-low results in the third round held last week, attention has turned to the fourth auction round, scheduled for 2021.

Andy Kinsella, group chief executive at Mainstream, said energy majors “must play a fundamental role” in the transition to renewable energy.

“Our joint participation in the U.K.’s Offshore Round 4 will combine our leadership position, expertise and unrivaled track record in the global offshore wind sector, with Eni’s pre-eminence and experience in offshore energy infrastructure, its commitment to decarbonize the energy system, as well as its robust balance sheet, in what is a capital-intensive business,” Kinsella said in a statement.

Eni has previously said it plans to develop a 5-gigawatt portfolio of wind, solar and energy storage by 2025.

Following the announcement of the latest seabed leasing round in the U.K., Shimeng Yang, offshore wind senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, told GTM that changes to rules around joint bidding and ownership would draw in new sources of investment.

“That will encourage oil and gas companies that have been very interested in offshore wind and trying to secure project pipelines," she said.

Mainstream has a serious pedigree in the offshore wind sector. It was the initial developer behind the 3-gigawatt Hornsea project, since sold to Ørsted, as well as the 450-megawatt Neart na Gaoithe project, now in the hands of EDF. It is also developing an 800-megawatt project in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Equinor's deal with China Power gives it access to “the world’s biggest offshore wind market by 2030,” said Pål Eitrheim, that company's executive vice president for new energy solutions.

Other estimates predict China could hold that title as early as 2021.

Søren Lassen, WoodMac senior research analyst, said Equinor was already experiencing its best year in the offshore wind sector with 2.6 gigawatts of auction wins under its belt.

“Equinor has, in 2019, cemented its strong position in offshore wind — not only through its tender victories but also though its ability to position itself in fledgling offshore wind markets [such as] Poland, South Korea, the Canary Islands and now China.”

"Five players sit on almost one-third of the global offshore wind portfolio. The offshore wind sector is becoming increasingly competitive as the industry globalizes and developers bolster their offshore wind ambitions,” added Lassen.


For more detail on the offshore market, explore the report 'Offshore wind asset development and ownership dynamics 2019.' Wood Mackenzie is hosting an invite-only analyst briefing on the U.S. offshore wind sector in Boston the morning of Wednesday, October 23. Email [email protected] to express interest in attending.