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Co-use – an opportunity at sea

Offshore wind energy will play an important role in the future offshore energy system. Co-use of the sea space contains significant potential to develop offshore wind power to be more sustainable.

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There is an overlap between the needs of different industries that operate at sea, such as wind power, wave power, oil and gas, aquaculture, and fishing. For example, these needs may involve detailed weather reports, information on bedrock topography, communication systems, control systems, infrastructure such as moorings, transport of material and personnel, and training of professionals who will operate systems at sea.

  • It is our belief that all energy solutions should be as in line as possible with the UN’s sustainable development goals. Based on this and our own research, SINTEF and NTNU delivered joint advice for the sustainable development of offshore and onshore wind energy in Norway as part of Arendalsuka 2019: Three tips for sustainable development of wind power.

Electrification of the shelf

As a planet, we urgently need to reduce all our CO2 emissions, and developing offshore wind power could reduce emissions from the Norwegian shelf relatively quickly. There are plenty of opportunities for using offshore wind power from the North Sea to generate pure electricity. Just by expanding the power capacity of Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjøen, the areas that are currently open for offshore wind development, to 5 GW, these two areas alone would be able to produce the power needed for the electrification (i.e., 22 TWh) of transport, industry, and oil and gas.

In addition to reducing emissions from the Norwegian shelf, developing offshore wind power can also meet future energy needs in Norway. For example, offshore wind power can be use used to supply offshore oil and gas platforms. This will result in an environmental gain in that the wind power will supply the platform with emissions-free energy. It will typically be a further environmentally beneficial that offshore wind turbines are located relatively close to the oil and gas platforms, and therefore in an already industrialised area.

Offshore wind energy can also be used in a future system for offshore charging of electric-hybrid ships or for producing hydrogen.

Co-use can counteract conflict

Norway has a knowledge advantage within maritime industries. In order to keep this advantage, we should continue to focus research and education on harnessing the co-use of sea spaces across industries and knowledge areas.

Taking co-use into account can both safeguard the sustainability perspective in its entirety and contribute to building a knowledge basis that counteracts potential conflicts between different interest groups.

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