World's largest offshore wind developer warns on low wind speeds

Orsted is latest company to suffer from more still days in the North Sea than expected in June and July

By Rachel Millard 13 August 2021

The world’s largest offshore wind developer has warned that low wind speeds are expected to affect its performance this year, highlighting the vulnerability of the renewable power giants to weather conditions.

Orsted expects annual profits to be towards the lower end of its predicted range of 15bn to 16bn kroner (£1.7bn to £1.8bn) due to very low wind speeds in June and July. The period ranked among the worst three quarters in more than 20 years.

Mads Nipper, the Danish company's chief executive, told the Financial Times that wind speeds in the North Sea had been “extraordinarily poor”, adding: “It’s very serious. It is like you’re a farmer and it doesn’t rain.”

Scottish Power and RWE have also suffered from still days in recent months, leading to a 7.7pc fall in half-yearly profits for Scottish Power's renewables business to £304m.

Normally the UK is excellent for wind speeds, as the map below shows:

The UK's coastline is a world-leading spot for wind power

UK mean wind power density, 100m elevation

Mean power density (W/m2)

RWE also reported lower wind volumes in northern and central Europe compared with high levels last year, contributing to a 22pc decline in profits at its offshore unit to €459m.

Orsted said quarterly wind speeds amounted to an average of 7.8 metres per second (m/s) across its offshore portfolio.

This was lower than the 8.4 m/s seen in the second quarter last year. It had expected 8.6 m/s.

Mr Nipper said he expected wind speeds to return to better levels.

"Over time the wind speeds have been incredibly stable,” he said. “We build wind farms that have an average life time of 30 plus years and we have no reason to believe that this is something which will structurally challenge that.”

Formerly known as Dong Energy, Orsted rebranded in 2017 to reflect its exit from oil and gas to focus on renewable power.

Since the rebranding was announced, its shares have risen more than 150pc, to 938 kroner.

As well as onshore and offshore wind turbines, it has bioenergy, hydrogen, solar and battery projects.

In the UK, it has 12 wind farms that produce enough power for about 4.2m homes.

It is also building the Hornsea Two offshore wind farm about 89km off the coast of Yorkshire.

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