The gigantic 88-megawatt Hywind Tampen floating offshore wind farm began operations in Norway this week, on schedule after a building phase of just two years. The quick turnaround from start to end may assist to undercut the rationale for new nuclear power facilities.
The project was initiated in 2020 by the Norwegian energy company Equinor. The goal was to replace natural gas with renewable energy at the existing Snorre and Gullfaks offshore oil facilities in the North Sea, and floating turbines suited the bill.
Equinor anticipates that the offshore wind farm will reduce natural gas usage at the two sites by 35%. The company describes its new wind farm as a demonstration project that will contribute to best practices and supply chain improvements in the floating wind industry overall.
The irony of this floating offshore project is that all of the wind farm’s clean kilowatts will be utilized to power offshore fossil energy facilities. Though, it is not a new development to use renewable energy as an enabling for oil and gas production. Since the 1980s, for example, solar energy has been employed in onshore oil fields.
In terms of urgent climate change action, the best approach would be to shut down all of fossil fuel sites and swiftly install renewable energy at the consumer level. Equinor’s investment in the wind farm suggests that the company expects oil and gas activities to continue in a low-carbon environment, at least for the time being.
Reference- Equinor Media Release, Interesting Engineering, npr story, Clean Technica