SHARES in Wood have surged around nine per cent after the company announced it had won contracts worth over $200 million (£160m) to work on US solar power plants which could provide a big boost amid the challenges posed by the coronavirus.

The Aberdeen-based engineering giant said it has been chosen by an American power company to deliver two plants in the state of Virginia following a competitive tender.

The awards will allow Wood to make rapid progress in a key market. The company said its US renewables business has doubled in size during this year. It has also won $100m contracts to work on US wind energy projects in recent months.

READ MORE: Wood judged to be ahead of oil services pack on renewables

Led by chief executive Robin Watson, Wood has set out to build a big position in the emerging renewable energy market. This is set for rapid growth around the world amid the drive to help tackle the threat of climate change.

Success in renewables will help Wood reduce its reliance on the oil services business in which it made its name.

Spending on oil and gas facilities is expected to fall sharply in areas such as the North Sea following the plunge in commodity prices triggered by the coronavirus.

READ MORE: Will coronavirus crisis turn North Sea into a bargain basin? 

Wood was hit hard by the slowdown in the North Sea that followed the oil price plunge from 2014 to 2016.

Governments are encouraging investment in renewable energy facilities to help reduce the carbon emissions associated with power generation.

Wood noted that Virginia recently passed an act that requires that all the state’s carbon electricity should be carbon free by 2050.

“We are seeing an unstoppable momentum towards a lower-carbon energy environment and Wood is proud to partner with clients that are committed to investing in a sustainable energy future,” said Stephanie Cox, who runs the division that works on US facilities.

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Wood has been employed to help develop plants in Chesapeake and Pittsylvania County. These are expected to become operational in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

It did not name the company concerned citing client confidentiality.

Wood said it has delivered over 200 solar projects around the world.

Shares in the company closed up 18.9p at 229.8p yesterday.