Å Energi, Skeie Group and the University of Agder are gearing up the region for a new industrial adventure. They are joining forces to launch the country's first specialised education in offshore wind.
Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II were the first areas to be announced for renewable energy production at sea, and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) recently identified 20 new areas. Offshore wind is therefore expected to become a significant industry that will create tens of thousands of new green jobs in Norway.
“In order to realise Norway's next industrial adventure, we need specialist expertise in offshore wind. Today, there is no full-fledged study programme, which is why we in Å Energi have joined forces with Skeie Group and the University of Agder to create the country's first specialised offshore wind education. In addition to creating jobs, offshore wind will change the energy system in the coming decades. That is why we want to facilitate education, research and innovation in offshore wind,” says Steffen Syvertsen, CEO of Å Energi.
The parties will initially contribute NOK 25-30 million between them to establish the offshore wind education.
The offshore wind education will, among other things, consist of master's programmes with specialisations in offshore energy and offshore wind. If everything goes as planned, these programmes will be launched in autumn 2024.
“The educational offer will help Agder take a leading national role in offshore wind. The University of Agder plays a natural role in building strong expertise in the region. That will lay the foundation for new jobs and green value creation both locally and nationally,” elaborates Sunniva Whittaker, rector at the University of Agder.
The agreement also involves continuing education courses, research and development projects as well as research fellows. In addition, reports for policy development will be produced, and networks for knowledge development and exchange with other educational institutions and companies will be established. The purpose is to increase the expertise in renewable energy in general, and offshore wind in particular.
“We want our students to use the whole of Agder as an arena for learning. With business and industry on the team, we can co-create tomorrow's knowledge within offshore wind. This initiative is interdisciplinary and will explore both technology solutions and the consequences for society. The fact that the students feel that their education is relevant and useful in the labour market is an important motivational factor,” says Whittaker.
The collaboration and the study programme are in line with the government's principles for the development of the Norwegian offshore wind industry and the need for expertise as described in the White Paper to the Storting No. 14, ‘Overview of the need for expertise in Norway’. There, the government expects "universities and university colleges to cooperate with business and industry and prioritise education programmes that are in accordance with the needs of new green industries".
The partnership is based on broad, interdisciplinary expertise. UiA has strong educational and research programmes that are relevant to offshore wind. Å Energi is among the country's largest renewable energy companies, and Skeie Group is an investment company with roots in offshore industrial development.
“If we are to succeed with large-scale offshore wind production, it is crucial that we build on the experience, expertise and technology we have from the oil and gas sector. We are creating new education in offshore wind together with UiA and Å Energi because they have the right expertise from academia, renewable energy and the power market. We already have cutting-edge expertise in offshore operations, and together we are ready for Norway's next industrial adventure,” explains Bjarne Skeie in the Skeie Group.
The Skeie Group's contribution to UiA is made through the subsidiary Lumber AS, where the Eidjord family is a co-owner and an important contributor.
“History shows how important cooperation, even with competitors, and cluster thinking are for building a world-leading offshore wind industry,” Skeie says.