EERA DeepWind 2021

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru gave this digital speech to the EERA DeepWind 2021 conference in Trondheim on January 13th 2021.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is a great honour for me to give the opening remarks of the DeepWind Conference 2021, generously hosted by SINTEF, NTNU and the European Energy Research Alliance. 

This conference has been developing every year since 2004. And it is now firmly established as an important international venue on deep sea offshore wind – within the research & development community.

Due to COVID 19, this year we all meet in a digital room. I sincerely hope we soon see the beginning of the end of the pandemic, and that we will be able to meet face-to-face on occasions like this in the not too distant future.

That said, just before Christmas I attended one of my favourite digital events of last year! It was when I had the pleasure of announcing our new national research centre on offshore wind. 

The new centre – NorthWind – will be hosted by SINTEF and NTNU and will start operations this year. Northwind will bring together more than 50 partners from research institutions and industry from all around the world. 

The government will contribute with a funding of 120 mill NOK over an eight-year period, but industry will also contribute both financially and by taking an active role in the centre.

Going forward, I believe such cooperation between the research community and industry is crucial.  I have high expectations for what the centre can achieve in the coming years. 

You will work with sustainable development of wind power - both onshore and offshore, through outstanding research and innovation. I firmly believe that this centre can contribute to the development of new green jobs. And increased exports, especially within offshore wind technology. 

I would like to congratulate you yet again on this achievement. I remember watching the cake-cutting ceremony through my screen here in Oslo. Later that day a cake also appeared at the Ministry and I can assure you; it wasn’t digital. 

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I haven´t wished you all a Happy New Year yet. And for those interested in offshore wind – and I expect that to be all of you!  The turn of the year comes with an additional bonus. As well as my wishes for a good new year.

Because in June, our government passed legislation that opened areas for large scale development of both floating and bottom fixed offshore wind. The opening of these areas has been well received in the industry. 

And from the 1st of January, proposals can be submitted to my ministry, for permits to these new offshore wind areas. New guidelines will be put forward this spring to aid companies in this process. It will be very exciting to follow how companies find these areas interesting. 

I understand that many might be a bit impatient to get started. Yet, I have to stress that we must consider all aspects thoroughly before any decisions are made. Regarding who will be granted permits for offshore wind projects on the Norwegian Continental shelf. 

This is not about first come, first served. I can assure you that clear notice will be given with, sufficient deadlines, before the ministry starts processing the applications and making decisions.

However – there is a lot of energy around offshore wind – and I like the impatience, and the will to get going – and be a part of the global energy transition.  

And - the transition we now see in the energy sector affects society in a number of ways. As some of you probably know already, we will present a White Paper to Parliament in the spring of 2021 on long-term value creation from Norwegian energy resources. 

In this paper, we will present perspectives on the future of both oil and gas as well as renewables, including offshore wind. The opening of further areas for offshore wind, should be seen in the context of this White Paper. 

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Offshore wind is a modern and exciting technology with great potential for countries on every continent. 

The IEA expects a significant growth in the years to come.  And the industry is expanding rapidly, and we see increased political ambitions for instance in the EU. Offshore wind will be a key component of tomorrow’s energy mix – in Europe and around the world. 

Bottom-fixed wind farms are already operating at scale in countries like the UK and Germany. However, this development has required subsidies other countries may not afford. In other places, water depths rule out bottom-fixed solution. In those waters, turbines on giant floating installations will be the future. 

With our vast offshore experience, this will be an area where Norwegian expertise, and Norwegian companies can play a very important role in future developments. Indeed, rapid growth in offshore wind power, offers great opportunities for Norwegian businesses. 

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Dear friends, a lot has happened since Equinor installed the world`s very first floating wind turbine, Hywind Demo, back in 2009 outside Rogaland. Next year, the 88-MW Hywind Tampen project will be operational on the Norwegian Continental shelf, supplying power to two oil and gas fields. There will be a lot to learn from this project. It received government support of 2.3 billion Norwegian kroner, and the goal is to scale up and get costs down.

However, there are remaining challenges that need to be addressed.  

If I could actually see my audience right now, I would pause for a couple of additional seconds. Because I believe you can play a key role going forward on these issues. 

Research and development is crucial to secure lower costs, less environmental impact and improved operating models for offshore wind projects. 

I can assure you that our government is committed to backing this industry's activity on R&D, and our support to the NorthWind research centre is a good example of that. 

Finally – let me say this. I am optimistic about the future of offshore wind. Not least because of the extensive efforts made by many that are in this digital audience today. And the institutions and businesses they represent. 

It certainly looks like the industry will be keeping up the momentum, cutting costs and finding new global opportunities. And I hope this conference will build on this momentum. 

Thank you for your attention, and enjoy the rest of the conference.