Skip to content

A real transition

Portrait of Stine, trees and ocean in the background
Photo: Andreas Kleiberg

Stine Myhre Selås thrives on a bit of turbulence — otherwise she wouldn’t have been a manager for offshore wind in Equinor. Or continued to work on wind at all...

“I was actually disappointed. I thought, ‘floating offshore wind, what is this?'”

When she secured a graduate position and started at Equinor in 2010, Stine had just graduated from NTNU with a degree in marine technology. She was placed in what was then a fairly new field and was almost alone. At least, it felt that way. Both the world, Norway, and Equinor looked very different back then, and the efforts in renewable energy were far from as extensive as they are today.

As part of a small group, Stine was tasked with finding out if, and how, floating offshore wind could become a new and important energy source. Fortunately, things started to take off.

“As soon as I started working, it became incredibly exciting. We were pioneering. I worked on developing a prototype that had already been installed, as well as business development of new areas and technologies. Much of it was about trying to come up with possible solutions to complex problems, and that challenge really struck a chord with the engineer in me,” says Stine, who has been drawn to the sea for as long as she can remember.

After six years of successful operation of the first prototype, installed in the sea off Karmøy, the Hywind Scotland project was seriously initiated in 2015 – the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, located in the Buchan Deep area, 25 kilometres off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland. The wind farm, consisting of five floating turbines that Stine helped design and develop, has delivered good results and today produces electricity equivalent to the annual needs of 35,000 households.

“A half turn on a 6-megawatt turbine like this generates about enough electricity for a small electric car to drive 100 kilometres,” Stine explains.

We’re standing in heather bushes and looking out over the turbines that were towed out to the North Sea a few years ago by powerful tugboats. Now they are returning the same way, to wind-swept Gulen, an hour’s drive north of Bergen. Around us, there is a lot of activity, literally. This summer, the five turbines that have been in operation at Hywind Scotland since 2017 are stopping in Norway for maintenance.

Woman hiking with two wind turbines, ocean and skies
Two of the five floating wind turbines that were towed from Scotland to Gulen, north of Bergen, this summer. The blade span measures 154 metres, and the base extends 78 metres below the sea surface.
Photo: Andreas Kleiberg

The sight makes Stine reflect on the development that has taken place since the last time she saw the nearly 180-metre-high wind turbines.

“The turbines we are now installing at Dogger Bank are more than twice as powerful as these, with 13 megawatts each. This means that one single turn produces enough electricity for a British home for two days,” she explains.

The offshore wind farm off the coast of England, which will consist of 277 fixed-bottom turbines, will become the world's largest of its kind when it is in full production in a few years.

Stine’s favourite app

Electricity Map is an app that shows how electricity in Europe is distributed at any given time and which countries are sending electricity to each other. The colour coding shows which countries are green or brown, depending on which energy sources make up the mix. “Incredibly fascinating,” says Stine.

A lot has happened in the 14 years she has been with Equinor. The world is facing enormous climate challenges, and we are going through an energy transition that is still in its early stages. Fossil energy sources are to be phased out, and renewable energy sources are to be phased in, while the world’s energy needs are increasing. It is a large and complex process, and Equinor has taken a clear stand. The ambition is to continue to deliver energy to society with lower emissions over time, and net zero by 2050. And to be a leading company in the energy transition. It will require a lot, but it is possible. A range of solutions must be explored, tested, and developed, and central to this is the investment in renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind.

But it is not all easy. The last few years have been tough in the offshore wind industry. A number of development projects have been stopped or postponed due to inflation, rising interest rates, and higher raw material prices. A few years ago, it was envisioned that the cost of developing offshore wind would decrease, but instead, it has gone up.

“It has been tough to endure, but at Equinor, we know that our industry is cyclical, it goes up and down,” says Stine.

“I am confident that the challenges facing the offshore wind industry will be resolved in the long term, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. Despite difficult times in the industry, we are in the process of carrying out several major projects in the UK, the USA, and Poland,” she continues.

The fact that Equinor is investing in offshore wind, she believes, is a completely natural development. Much of the knowledge and expertise from over fifty years of developing and operating offshore installations and pipelines is directly transferable. In fact, so transferable that several engineers at Equinor can work on infrastructure for an oil installation one day, and then do the same with wind turbines the next. In that sense, more than just an energy transition is taking place. New jobs and fields are being developed. Around 1600 people at Equinor today work with renewable energy.

But not everyone is as enthusiastic about offshore wind. Critics argue that it is an unstable energy source because it depends on the wind, which of course, can never be controlled. At the same time, significant resources are required to produce the turbines, and their production also has emissions like all industrial production. And offshore wind farms take up large areas.

“Critical voices make us think twice, and that is always healthy. I don’t think that the offshore wind solutions we have today are perfect, or that offshore wind is the solution alone. But I am in no doubt that it is making a positive contribution. And we are continuously working to improve our solutions, for instance, with better utilisation of materials, and with how we can reduce noise during installation. That is what the energy transition is about, finding new solutions, and then optimising them to be as good as possible,” says Stine.

And she looks forward to the future.

“Developments have gone incredibly fast, so I am excited about what energy solutions will come 20 years from now. I find being part of the ongoing energy transition very exciting,” she says.

I also do not think that the offshore wind solutions we have today are perfect, or that offshore wind is the solution alone. But that it contributes positively, I have no doubt.

Stine Myhre Selås
Portrait of Stine inside an office building

Offshore wind in Equinor

  • Our ambition is to become a leading international player in offshore wind, and we currently operate almost half of all floating wind power in the world.
  • Hywind Scotland is the world’s first floating offshore wind farm and produces power equivalent to 35,000 British homes. The pilot project has been in operation since 2017.
  • Dogger Bank off North England, with its 277 turbines, will be the world’s largest fixed-bottom offshore wind farm when it is in full production in a few years. The project is a collaboration between Equinor, SSE Renewables, and Vårgrønn.
  • Empire Wind (1 and 2) off New York is our first wind project in the USA. Empire Wind 1 will eventually produce enough power to supply the equivalent of over 500,000 homes in Manhattan.
  • In renewable energy, we are investing heavily in offshore wind, but also in solar energy, onshore wind, and battery storage. We have the ambition to produce up to 65 terawatt-hours annually with renewable energy by 2035.
  • From 2022 to 2023, we doubled our production of renewable energy, and our offshore wind projects accounted for a significant part of this.
Read more about offshore wind in Equinor

Floating and Fixed-Bottom Offshore Wind — what’s the difference?

  • The difference between floating and fixed-bottom offshore wind mainly lies in how the wind turbines are anchored to the seabed.
  • Fixed-bottom offshore wind: Turbines that are fixed to the seabed. The turbines are well-suited for areas with shallow and medium-depth waters and stable seabed conditions. The turbines have less mobility and flexibility than floating offshore wind but have somewhat lower installation and maintenance costs due to their placement. Fixed-bottom offshore wind is most used worldwide today.
  • Floating offshore wind: Turbines that are mounted on floating platforms anchored to the seabed, allowing them to be placed in deeper waters. This provides greater flexibility for installation in more challenging sea conditions and also the possibility for placement further out at sea where wind conditions are better. The turbines are especially well-suited for locations where fixed-bottom turbines cannot be used due to water depth or geological conditions.

Subscribe to our stories

Subscribe to our magazine stories and meet the people behind the ideas—and explore the stories behind the headlines. You will receive new stories by email and you can unsubscribe at any time.