A far-ranging NKr125.m ($14.5Mm) project designed to “ensure profitable development” of offshore wind off Norway has been given a shot in the arm by the Nordic country’s government under its so-called Green Platform scheme.

Ocean Grid, a multi-partner programme led by energy giant Equinor, will receive some NKr82.7m via the Norwegian minister of trade and industry to hone thinking on the technologies needed to build and run a wind-powered offshore grid, as well the key market design and regulatory framework issues that could impact its operation.

“Our objective is to realise offshore wind on a large scale [off Norway], said Equinor vice president of offshore wind solutions Florian Schuchert.

“We have to build wind farms in a cost-effective way, and we of course need to get the power all the way to the customers. It's crucial to our success that the energy companies, research institutions and suppliers collaborate towards this goal.”

The three-year project – which counts industrial big-hitters including AkerSolutions, Deep Wind Offshore, Fred Olsen Renewables, Aibel, Nexans, DNV, and Hitachi ABB among it members – will look at both commercial-scale bottom-fixed and floating wind arrays and related cable, subsea and converter stations technologies.

Ocean Grid will also encompass an R&D work-package, led by research institute SINTEF.

“This project will develop technology and solutions that are essential to succeed with offshore wind. It will lay the foundation for a profitable offshore wind development in Norway, and technology that can provide increased exports and new green jobs,” said John Olav Tande, chief scientist at SINTEF.

Fred Olsen Renewables’ Lars Bender, who will act as chairman of the project's board, stated: “This project is important and on point to develop the right solutions and new technologies that will enable profitable offshore wind in Norway. This will lay the groundwork for new concepts, new jobs and a new supplier industry that can compete internationally.”

On 12 June, the Norwegian parliament voted through a highly anticipated tender that opens up two vast swathes of water in the North Sea to development with up to 4.5GW of floating and bottom-fixed wind arrays — to electrify ageing oil & gas complexes as well as producing direct-to-grid utility-scale power.

Though Norway has only two turbines installed in its waters, the Hywind Demo deployed in 2009 and the TetraSpar prototype being developed by Stiesdal Offshore Technologies with Shell, RWE and TEPCO, offshore wind is nonetheless seen as central to its energy transition, with industrial clusters until now focused on the oil & gas sector diversifying into the rapidly emerging cross-over market and first floating wind-power oil production project, Hwyind Tampen, under construction.

A report last year by trade body KonKraft highlighted floating wind power, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen as being key to the country targets cutting its emissions by 40% by the end of the decade and to “near zero” by 2050.