By Nina Chestney and Marwa Rashad
LONDON (Reuters) -Power company Energias de Portugal (EDP) plans to invest 12.86 billion pounds ($17.65 billion) in wind and solar projects in Britain by 2030 as the country strives to lower its emissions to net zero by mid-century.
EDP plans to invest via its subsidiary EDP Renovaveis (EDPR), the world's fourth largest renewable energy producer, which has 1 gigawatt (GW) of offshore wind capacity under construction and 0.9 GW under development in Britain.
EDP's largest wind investments are in the U.S. market but the company wants to explore further opportunities which allow it to play a leading role in the UK's energy transition.
"The UK is a core market for us. We like it because it is stable, predictable and there is a long term vision," Miguel Stilwell d'Andrade, chief executive of EDP and EDPR, told Reuters in an interview in London.
"I think the UK and Europe both have a very forward-thinking approach to climate change and the energy transition. They have the commitment to implement the energy transition," he added.
The 13-billion pound investment is in addition to a 2.65 billion-pound investment by Ocean Winds, EDP's 50-50 joint venture with French utility Engie, in the Moray East and Moray West offshore wind projects in Scotland, EDP said.
EDP plans to invest a further 2.2 billion pounds in the Moray West project, which is due to start construction in 2022.
The firm has bid in the ScotWind leasing tender, which is aimed at supporting the development of offshore wind capacity.
EDP's joint venture, Ocean Winds, submitted bids in the tender and is targeting a minimum of 3.9 GW between a floating and fixed offshore wind project. The capital expenditure for both would be 10 billion pounds. Initial offers in ScotWind will be made to successful applicants next January.
Britain has the largest offshore wind market in the world, with around a third of all installed offshore wind capacity at the end of 2020.
It plans to generate a third of its electricity from offshore wind farms by 2030 as part of its own efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
ONSHORE WIND PROJECTS
EDP said it plans to invest around 660 million pounds in UK onshore wind projects over the next five years, which underlines its efforts to diversify its presence in Britain.
In July, it acquired onshore wind and solar portfolios with capacity of 544 MW.
EDP said it is negotiating with local partners over 200 MW of onshore wind projects. Typically it will target projects of a 30 to 70 MW size in the north of Britain and Scotland, Stilwell d'Andrade said.
He added that the company was not close to announcing details of the onshore projects or partners yet.
Last month, the UK government announced the biggest auction round of its renewable energy support scheme, which will open in December, and will include onshore wind and solar for the first time.
In the last auction, the cost of offshore wind fell to around 40 pounds per megawatt hour (MWh), much less than the current price of wholesale power of around 175 pounds/MWh.
Wholesale power prices have rocketed in Britain this year due to global gas prices that have soared due to post-pandemic demand recovery, low inventory volumes, infrastructure outages and other factors.
EDP said earlier this year it wanted to abandon coal-fired power generation by 2025 and produce energy only from renewable sources by the end of the decade.
Outside Britain, Stilwell d'Andrade said EDP is interested in expanding its presence in Asia, particularly South Korea and Vietnam.
($1 = 0.7288 pound)
(Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Nina Chestney; editing by Jason Neely and Jonathan Oatis)