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Could New York’s yellow taxis one day go completely green?

For the US to achieve its ambitious climate goals, carbon based energy must be replaced with electricity from renewable sources at a high pace. In the future, perhaps the iconic yellow taxis in New York's streets will run on electricity produced from offshore wind?

In 1969, yellow became a mandatory color for taxis in New York City. The purpose was to distinguish registered taxis from other cars picking up customers without a license. Ever since, yellow taxis have been one of the city’s iconic symbols, just like the Statue of Liberty and the red heart in “I Love NY”.

Since then, the yellow taxis have mainly been running on gasoline. In the 1980s and 1990s, Norway exported large quantities of oil to the US, so there’s a significant possibility that some of these taxis have been running on North Sea oil.

But a change is underway on the other side of the Atlantic. The United States, like most other nations, has set itself ambitious climate targets. New York is among those leading the way. The state has committed to reduce its emissions by 60% by 2030 compared to 1990. Reducing emissions and the use of fossil energy are necessary to reach the climate targets. And the clock is ticking.

It’s not just the yellow taxis that have been dependent on oil. The United States is today the world’s largest oil consumer and uses approximately 20% of all crude produced in the world.

For the Americans to succeed with their ambitions, renewable energy is central and offshore wind is one of the core areas. Equinor is a part of this, and together with our partners we are planning two offshore wind farms in New York: Empire Wind and Beacon Wind.

Equinor's facility in Dudgeon off Scotland
An offshore wind farm might look like this, from Equinor's facility in Dudgeon off Scotland. On the east coast of the United States, large-scale offshore wind is now being invested in, and there Equinor is behind the Empire and Beacon Wind projects.
Photo: Matt Goldsmith

These can supply power equivalent to the consumption of two million households with renewable energy. Together we’re developing new energy and new industries, and providing jobs on the US’ east coast.

The power that made tiny Norway a large energy nation is the same power that will contribute to the world’s energy transition. Equinor’s ambition is to continue supplying society with energy with a lower carbon footprint and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. New renewable energy, such as offshore wind, plays an important role.

Maybe one day all of New York City’s taxis will be electric and powered by renewable energy? Or put another way: Maybe one day they will be “green”, even if their color is still iconic yellow?

The first 50 years have passed. The clock is ticking towards 2050.

This is one of many stories from our first 50 years. It is also part of the story of how we will succeed with the energy transition.

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