A many-year fascination with wind and the forces produced by waves was the trigger behind the establishment of Oceangrid. It is developing a new method for ocean floor installations of floating ocean wind platforms. Its team has been joined by three solid investors, and some of the honour for this goes to Innovation Norway.
99 per cent of current offshore wind farms are fixed to the seabed and are located relatively close to shore where the water is not that deep. Further out to sea, wind power has great potential, although the deeper the sea, the more expensive the offshore wind farms have been. This is where Oceangrid’s solution comes into the picture.
“Our platform is designed to be optimal where the ocean depth is 50-300 metres,” says entrepreneur Bjarte Nordvik.
Assembly at sea
Nordvik believes that Oceangrid has taken the best from several well-known technologies and put them together in a way that will streamline the assembly and installation processes for floating offshore wind.
“Our concept is based on the platforms mainly being assembled from two modules where we can carry out the assembly while floating and without the modules that weigh several thousand tonnes having to be lifted on land. In this way an offshore wind platform can be assembled in the space of a couple of weeks, instead of three to four months, which is the current situation,” says Nordvik.
When the platform and associated anchoring and electrical cables were being designed, there was an emphasis on ensuring that the installations will have the least possible impact on the ocean and the seabed. The aim is to ensure the best possible co-existence between offshore wind developments, marine life, and other types of ocean industries in the same ocean area.
Inspiration from submarines
The entrepreneur trained as a marine engineer at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy and served on submarines for years.
“I have more or less grown up in the ‘wave zone’, which has contributed to a great interest and respect for this as a field."
There is no doubt that the project is capital intensive with a long development path, and up to now it has been about rigging the project and starting verification of the technology. Oceangrid has received a market clarification grant and an environmental technology grant from Innovation Norway.
"I do not believe we would be where we are today without the support we got from Innovation Norway at an early phase. We spent the market clarification grant on clarifying the technology and the market, as well as on forming a realistic picture of how future floating offshore wind projects will be carried out from the design phase to assembly, installation, operation, and decommissioning. With support from the environmental technology programme, the goal is to take the solution to TRL level 4-5,” says Nordvik.
In addition to the financial contribution from Innovation Norway, Nordvik also pointed to the importance of sparring at an early phase.
“Our adviser has been a good source of support for us with correct and honest feedback. Among other things, he has helped to guide us in the right direction.”
The entrepreneur also believes that the support from Innovation Norway has been important in the process of bringing in investors and partners. And it is not just anyone that they got to join them.
“When we talk about investors, having received support of Innovation Norway is a mark of quality. We have been joined by four solid investors: Valinor, Mosvold Kapital, Zukunftige Werte, and Fjord Base Holding. With this we have an energy company that knows industry, we have those who will build and be responsible for logistics, and we also have a financial investor.”
If Oceangrid is successfully able to verify the concept in the environmental technology project, the next goal is to apply for EU funding to build a pilot.
A dream customer
Funding adviser Kjell Haganes at Innovation Norway’s Vestland office has no doubt that Oceangrid can achieve its objectives.
“Offshore wind is expensive to develop, especially the floating kind. This project has the potential to signiﬁcantly reduce the cost per produced kilowatt. We are talking about a strong team here, which has gained good partners, and who are humble and listen to the advice they receive underway.”
Haganes points out that offshore wind solutions are in demand from Norwegian authorities, and that Oceangrid’s project is highly relevant in this context.
“This is a dream customer for Innovation Norway,” says Haganes.