Offshore wind farm to power oil and gas production in Norway

It is estimated to reduce 200,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually but that's just 0.4 percent of the country's emissions.
Ameya Paleja
Representative image of an offshore wind farm
Representative image of an offshore wind farm


Hywind Tampen, a floating offshore wind farm, was officially inaugurated by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway last week, CNBC reported. Dubbed the largest floating offshore platform in the world, the energy generated from the farm will be used to power operations at five oil and gas fields in the North Sea.

Construction of a large wind farm is often seen as welcome news since it holds the promise of reducing carbon emissions that would have otherwise resulted from the use of fossil fuels. In the case of Hywind Tampen, though, the capacity built will be used to power the production of fossil fuels, which is contradictory to the aims of renewables.

The sharp contradiction of the project is not lost on many but before we get there, here's why Hywind Tampen is the largest floating wind farm.

The Hywind Tampen Project

Typically, offshore platforms are fixed to the sea bed, which raises the cost of their construction. This prevents projects from being undertaken in greater depths of the sea, where the sea winds are stronger and more energy can be harvested.

A floating wind farm consists of turbines installed on platforms that are anchored to the sea bed. This helps in the reduction of installation costs and greater electricity production, improving the return on investment in a bid to make wind farms financially sustainable.

Located 87 miles (140 km) off the coast of Norway, the Hywind Tampen project consists of just 11 wind turbines. Put together, these turbines have a capacity of generating 88 MW of energy, which can offset 35 percent of the energy needs of five production platforms in the region.

The project is led by Equinor, a major player in the fossil fuel industry in Norway, which successfully demonstrated a similar project with a 30 MW capacity off the coast of Scotland back in 2017.

The contradiction

Even though Norway might be leading the world in terms of electric vehicle adoption, its oil and gas industry isn't seeing a downturn. Instead, the country continues to tap into its natural resources to export them to the world and sustain its economy.

By building a wind farm to partly offset its operational emissions from five gas fields, Norway aims to reduce 200,000 tonnes of emissions. This might sound big in absolute numbers but it is only 0.4 percent of the country's emissions. Environmentalists would prefer that Equinor and Norway simply stop producing oil and gas and bring about a more significant impact.

However, as per Reuters, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said that "abruptly stopping oil and gas was not the solution in the energy transition" and "minimizing the footprint" was the way ahead.

For its large capacity, Hywind Tampen can only offset the operational emissions from the fields and not those that will result from burning the produced quantities.

Aiming for energy transition, Norway has plans to generate 30 GW of energy from offshore wind farms by 2040 and is expected to start commissioning commercial wind farms later this year.

The Hywind Tampen project cost 7.4 billion crowns (US$ 740 million) and has received 2.9 billion crowns (US$ 290 million) in subsidies.

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