This is Emil Orderud's dream. He has changed paths from oil to renewable energy.
He and his family moved to a small English village from Oslo to join the new dawn for Norwegian energy companies.
In Sheringham Shoal’s shallow waters, a couple of miles from land, increasing numbers of wind turbines tower over the grey-blue sea. On a clear day, the local population can see them from the outer harbor, with its beach and colourful small huts.
The wind farm is located on England’s eastern coast, just outside Norfolk’s fine, mile-long sandy beaches. The seaside town of Wells-next-the Sea has 2,200 inhabitants in wintertime, 15,000 in the summer.
A history of fossils
Emil Orderud, his wife, and two small children have lived in the area since the beginning of the year and settled in Great Walsingham village.
“The family has spent a lot of time together here, “says Orderud.
He is extremely pleased about his posting, and contributing to a new, green business area for Statoil. He altered course from fossil to renewable-based energy whilst participating in developing Hywind, the world’s first full-scale floating offshore wind turbine which has undergone testing for the last two years off Karmøy.
“It’s fun that Statoil dares to venture and that there’s money in the project,” the civil engineer says about the enterprise in England. 88 fixed wind turbines will be put up here by next summer. The offshore wind farm will be the largest in the world. At the same time, Sheringham Shoal will become a guinea pig for a larger Statoil and Statkraft development further out in the North Sea.
“I’m looking forward to normal operations and to when the wind farm starts supplying electricity. This is how we will prove the project is viable,” says Emil Orderud, Scira Offshore Energy’s operations and maintenance manager. The company has offices in Wells.
Uses experience from Oil
Orderud gets to use his operations and maintenance experience in Wells-next-the-Sea from Mongstad, the Hywind wind turbines, and not least thought processes on integrated operations from the modern Norwegian offshore business.
“Similar to the oil industry good control systems, surveillance, and clever people to control the installations from land are decisive,” says Orderud, adding that Statoil has experience of offshore installations and logistics.
Hywind off Karmøy is the technology of the future, which Statoil expects can be made profitable and sellable within ten years.
The company uses today’s technology at Sheringham Shoal; the wind turbines are fixed at a depth of approximately 20 metres.
What is the most exciting challenge for you, personally?
“New initiatives, working here, and gaining experience. We have a numerical target for how much electricity the wind farm should deliver, and I want to beat it,” says Orderud.
Most of his job is on land, but he occasionally travels offshore to go through equipment and documentation in preparation for when Scira takes over from Siemens, turbine by turbine.
It is now the end of August 2011: The boat ride takes 45 minutes from the outer harbour out to the field. Amongst rolling waves and fresh sea spray Einar Strømsvåg, Scira’s General Manager, shows the Norwegian press the first four wind turbines and two transformer stations. Electricity production is underway.
The low-hanging clouds out on the sea make it difficult to imagine these turbine towers would both dwarf Bryne’s skyscraper by 16 metres, and are at a full 700 metres apart.
Positive with wind?
“We have conflicting wishes for wind conditions: Those who assemble the turbines want none, whilst operationally, we want the wind to blow as strongly as possible,” Strømsvåg says with a smile.
As well as the turbines, yellow fundaments half as big as Stavanger municipality stand in a neat pattern above the sea. From now on, the turbines will be put up and connected in pairs.
“Autumn and winter weather conditions will be the most decisive factor determining whether Scira and Statoil manage to keep to schedule,” says Strømsvåg. 12 turbines have been put up to date.
The future lies further out
The wind farm, which is due for completion in six months, will supply electricity to 220,000 British households.
However, this is just the beginning of the new dawn for Norwegian energy companies and the supply industry.
The Doggerbank development further out to sea could be 30 times larger. Doggerbank’s goal is an installed capacity of 9 gigawatts, meaning between 2,500 and 3,000 wind turbines at today’s calculations. Before then, however, Statoil and Statkraft will use their experiences from Sheringham Shoal to cut the offshore wind project’s costs sharply.
Einar Strømsvåg is also looking eastwards for knowledge: The Chinese are major players, and contribute to increased competition with their own development of the wind industry.
A new dawn
What will the sunrise look like over the North Sea in 10 years time?
“Hopefully, we would have built out the Doggerbank wind farm by then. People will have to live out on platforms or ships as the field lies so far from land,” says Emil Orderud.
Row upon row of new, giant wind turbines could have popped up on a huge sandbank by then, much further out into the sea than we could have glimpsed from the Norfolk beaches.
Offshore workers out there will neither smell the oil, nor hear the noise of the machines, but perceive the hum of several thousand windmills swishing away, giving the English clean, everlasting energy.