Norway’s Crown Prince urges Norway & California collaboration on offshore wind

Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon urged collaboration between Norway and California on offshore wind development as well as … the transition to green technologies in remarks made at the U.S. Norway Business Summit that took place in San Francisco on April 15th.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is managing “federal oversight authority on five existing leases in California,” two in Northern California off Humboldt County, and three in Central California near Morro Bay. The value of the bids was $757 million for the five sites.

BOEM’s lease sale offered five lease areas covering 373,268 total acres off Central and Northern California. The leased areas have the potential to produce over 4.6 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power over 1.5 million homes, according to BOEM.

The Provisional Winners are: High Bid
RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, LLC $157,700,000
California North Floating, LLC $173,800,000
Equinor Wind US, LLC $130,000,000
Central California Offshore Wind, LLC $150,300,000
Invenergy California Offshore LLC $145,300,000

In addition, the Port of Long Beach has proposed the construction of a 400 acre ‘Pier Wind’ offshore wind port projected to cost $4.7 billion, according to Suzanne Plezia, Senior Director/Chief Harbor Engineer for the Port of Long Beach. The project is designed to assemble and build 400-500 floating wind turbines, Plezia told AJOT. Plezia and the Port’s Executive Director Mario Cordero attended the Summit in San Francisco. 

Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon

Facing the Challenges of the Sea

In his remarks Crown Prince Haakon compared his experiences as a wind surfer and surfer in comprehending the challenges of waves and wind that harness the energy to power offshore wind farms. He also referenced the long maritime experiences of Norwegians as mariners sailing ships to the modern-day successes of Norway as a developer of floating wind turbines. 

These skills will be necessary to support offshore wind farms that are now planned for deployment off the coast of Northern and Central California: “I had been windsurfing since I was a little kid, and now I wanted to start surfing. And anyone who has gone to Ocean Beach (in San Francisco) here and tried surfing knows that it is brutal. So, I had a tough time. It's really difficult to get out there it's a lot of paddling and a lot of frustration.”

These challenges as a surfer reflect the challenges Norway have faced making its livelihood at sea.

The result is Norway’s success in developing its offshore oil and gas capabilities allowed it to transition into floating offshore wind development: “We have quite a bit of experience … working in … offshore technology, the deep sea, in harsh, dark and cold climate. So, if we can do it in Norway, we hopefully can do it (in) most other places as well.”

Crown Prince Haakon went on to say: “The aim of today's conference is to explore how we best can work together to accelerate the green transition. We will look at how new technology can help shape a more sustainable future for the maritime industry. With a particular focus on offshore wind, green shipping, and sustainable crops. California and Norway share a vision of developing clean and green energy solutions that will have positive impact for the economy and the environment alike. Given our deep-water coastlands, we both have a special interest in exploring floating offshore wind power. As a global hub for technological innovation, California is well positioned to lead the way in advancing and implementing this sophisticated technology. And in Norway, we have found that our experience with building and operating complex offshore installations can be directly transferred and applied to the challenges and opportunities posed by offshore wind projects. “

The results are starting to manifest themselves: “Last summer, I had the pleasure of opening the world's largest floating offshore wind farm 90 miles off the coast of … Norway … with 11 floating wind turbines producing 88 megawatts of renewable energy. It represents a new chapter in Norway’s history as an energy pioneer, but of course, a lot of scaling is needed from there.”

In August 2023 the Norwegian energy firm Equinor and its partners inaugurated the world's largest floating offshore wind farm whose output will supply nearby oil and gas platforms and cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Hywind Tampen wind farm, where Equinor is partnering with other oil firms in producing 88 megawatts of capacity will cover around 35% of annual power demand for five platforms at the Snorre and Gullfaks oil and gas fields in the North Sea, about 140 km (87 miles) off Norway's west coast, according to a Reuters report.

Haakon concluded by stating: “As you all know, the combination of California's entrepreneurial spirit and Norway's experience with offshore installations in harsh maritime environments provides the framework for a partnership with a great potential. I hope that your shared efforts will pave the way for a wide range of new forward-looking partnerships.” 

In 2019 a team from Equinor visited several California ports looking for possible sites to locate wind turbine assembly ports. At that time the Equinor team visited the ports of San Francisco, Long Beach, and Port Hueneme in Ventura County. 

Jan Christian Vestre, Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry, followed the Crown Prince and said there is an urgency to transitioning over to renewable energy as climate change problems worsen: “I'm very optimistic, but I'm also worried because we have known for so many decades now that something is going on here, and we haven't been able in an efficient way yet to reduce the (emissions). … Now it's really hard to speed up.”

Technological Improvements

Vestre said it was necessary to ask: “how can we utilize all the tools in our box at the same time? And to do so, we have to think big. We have to be brave enough. We have to accept that we will make some wrong investment decisions … But there is no option to just lean back and hope that this will all go away and that … we don't have to change anything.”

He is hopeful about a number of technologies that Norway has invested in including offshore wind: “When we do get the scale… we increase the numbers and increase the volume (and) the prices will go down. And this goes for carbon captured storage. This goes for offshore wind. … The maritime sector … all new ferries or more or less all new ferries in Norway are now… fully electric. We ... recently realized the first ever autonomous fully electric container ship in Norway. There … are tremendous opportunities now. So, if we are able to speed up to make sure that we have the right framework conditions, meaning that we do need to have (an) efficient way of risk mitigation, because we cannot give all this to the private sector simply because the risks are too high, then I think we have a decent chance to look back in seven years and say that ‘yes we made it’.”

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis


Contact Author

© Copyright 1999–2024 American Journal of Transportation. All Rights Reserved