Offshore wind or offshore oil and gas?

Offshore windfarms are not generally considered economical in Australia because we have such a large (cheaper) onshore wind resource here: good winds over a large land area.

We do have offshore oil and gas drilling in Australia – including exploration in areas three times the depth of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, in the Great Australian Bight.

The following shows Shell arguing against wind farms and asking for government support for its oil and gas activities.

The most glaring omission from this article, however, isn’t the risk of further Deepwater Horizons but the fact that oil and gas are driving dangerous climate change while wind is not, a fact that Shell seem to wish to avoid.

From “Shell says no to North Sea wind power” by Terry Macalister, guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 April 2012

Simon Henry, the company’s finance director, said Shell “can’t make the numbers” add up to justify building offshore windfarms. That contrasts with onshore turbines in America where it controls almost 1 gigawatt of wind power. The British government should support an industry that is “already successful” – such as oil and gas – as much as chase a renewable power sector that is still trying to become profitable, Henry added.

He was speaking as Shell reported enormous first quarter profits and as Cameron made a rare plea for help with renewable power at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in London. The prime minister described renewables as the “fastest growing energy source on the planet”.

(… )

Shell, which has enormous experience of oil and gas operations in the North Sea, said the current economics of wind power did not stack up, although it promised to keep a “watching brief”. Henry said his company was spending $6bn on “alternative” energy including biofuels but also warned the government that it must be careful that a vast amount of the public subsidies going into renewables did not end up all going to “Asian manufacturers”, which dominated many supply chains.

(… )

Shell is looking at the potential for onshore shale gas production in Britain and wider Europe but suspects progress in the sector will be slow because this is a “small continent with a lot of people.”

 

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