A flagship floating wind unit designed to cut emissions from offshore oil & gas platforms is on track to be in the water by 2024, following the award of new funding to Norway’s Odfjell Oceanwind.

The contractor has landed some NKr10m ($1.1m) from Enova, Norway’s fund for climate and energy technologies, to fine-tune engineering of its mobile offshore wind unit (MOWU) concept, which will marry an 11MW Siemens Gamesa turbine with Odfjell Oceanwind’s WindGrid hybrid system to part-power oil & gas production platforms.

The technology is calculated as capable of taking over from gas turbines on host offshore oil & gas installations to cut CO2 emissions by 60-70%.

“This award marks another milestone on our roadmap towards commercial floating wind power, and will be an important enabler for us… to progress the first MOWU contracts for oil & gas installations on the Norwegian continental shelf,” said Odfjell Oceanwind CEO Per Lund.

“Our customers have high ambitions for reducing carbon footprint from their activities, and our solutions offer an attractive alternative to expensive and controversial electrification by use of shore power cables.”

Oskar Gärdemann, marketing manager for industry at Enova, said: “In the transition to a low-emission society, we need to develop technologies that contributes to increased production of renewable energy.

“There are still a number of technological challenges associated with floating wind, and for Enova it is important to support studies to form a good basis for decision-making so that Odfjell Oceanwind can test and further develop [such] technologies.”

The grant will help fund engineering and planning activities in the second half of 2021 to “provide a sound foundation for an investment decision”, he added.

The MOWU concept in June received a technical seal of approval from classification body DNV.

Floating wind-powered oil & gas production is not a new concept. A pioneering project called Win-Win was launched in 2013 but met with a mixed reaction in the energy industry, with pragmatists seeing it as a means to reducing emissions from ageing petroleum assets while further field-proving floating wind technology, while purists viewed it as a gateway to the ‘dirtification’ of wind.

Global markets have in the last year shifted opinion with Norwegian energy giant Equinor on track to build Hywind Tampen, an 88MW floating wind array to be wired into the Snorre-Gullfaks complex in the North Sea, and several other projects now bubbling away for similar schemes in off Europe, in the US Gulf, off Southeast Asia and even off Canada.