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Equinor clinches huge renewable energy contract in the U.S.

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Offices of energy company Equinor photographed in Norway on February 6, 2019.

Odin Jaeger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Norway’s Equinor has been awarded a major contract to provide renewable energy to New York state from two huge offshore wind farms located in waters off the East Coast.

In an announcement Wednesday, the firm said it was the “largest-ever” offshore wind deal that had been awarded in the U.S. — and also “one of the largest renewable energy procurements in the U.S. to date.”

Under the terms of the deal, Equinor and its partner BP will provide New York with renewable energy from the Empire Wind 2 and Beacon Wind 1 projects.

The two firms will also work with New York to develop the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Port of Albany into what Equinor described as “large-scale offshore wind working industrial facilities.”

Last year, BP agreed to take 50% stakes in the Empire Wind and Beacon Wind projects from Equinor, in a deal set to close in the early part of 2021.

The Empire Wind 2 and Beacon Wind 1 developments will have a capacity of 1,260 and 1,230 megawatts (MW) respectively. The contract announced on Wednesday will supplement another agreement for energy from the 816 MW Empire Wind 1 project. Capacity refers to the maximum amount that installations can produce, not what they are currently generating.

When fully finished, Equinor says the overall Empire Wind and Beacon Wind projects will each be able to power over one million homes.

In a statement, Equinor’s CEO Anders Opedal described the East Coast of the United States as “one of the most attractive growth markets for offshore wind in the world.”

While it may have potential, the U.S. is still some way off matching other parts of the world when it comes to scale.

The country’s first offshore wind farm — the 30 MW, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, which is operated by Danish company Orsted — only started commercial operations at the end of 2016.

By comparison, Europe is home to a number of huge offshore wind projects. Last November, Orsted announced that the 752 MW Borssele 1 & 2 offshore facility was fully up and running, claiming it could provide enough electricity to power 1 million households.

In plans laid out toward the end of last year, the European Union said it wanted its offshore wind capacity to hit 300 gigawatts by the middle of the century.

While both Equinor and BP are attempting to develop more renewable energy projects, they remain major players in the oil and gas sector.

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden to deploy FEMA, National Guard to set up Covid vaccine clinics across the U.S.

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Spc. Katherine Deskins (L) of the Nevada Army National Guard administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Clark County Fire Department Capt. Jasmine Ghazinour on the first day of Clark County’s pilot vaccination program at Cashman Center on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden plans to use FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics across the United States, according to new details of his Covid-19 vaccination plan released by his transition team on Friday.

The Biden administration will also “quickly jumpstart” efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies across the U.S., which should ensure that Americans have access to doses at facilities only miles from their home, according to the plan. 

“Here’s the deal: The more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones,” Biden said at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday night. “We won’t get out of it overnight and we can’t do it as a separated nation.”

Drug store chains and pharmacies were supposed to take on a larger role in distributing the vaccine once the government expanded access to more people. But the slower-than-expected rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores called on the federal government earlier this week to allow states to send more doses directly to pharmacies as they do with hospitals and health departments. 

The group estimated that the country’s retail pharmacies could administer at least 100 million doses of vaccines each month, which would exceed the incoming administration’s promise of 100 million shots in 100 days.

The Biden administration has said current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population, adding, “We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms.”

The pace of vaccinations in the U.S. is going much slower than officials had hoped. As of Friday at 6 a.m. ET, more than 31.1 million doses of vaccine had been distributed across the U.S., but just over 12.2 million shots have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the plan, Biden will also invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”

The incoming president’s advisors had previously hinted that he would invoke the wartime production law, which allows the president to compel companies to prioritize manufacturing for national security, to bolster vaccine production.  

The plan says the act will increase the supply of necessary equipment that could otherwise cause bottlenecks in the vaccine’s rollout if they were in shortage, including glass vials, syringes, stoppers and needles. It will also increase the capacity to package the vaccines into vials.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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