The man behind the three largest offshore engineering companies in Agder, lacks no ambition on behalf of the region in which he has created thousands of engineering jobs. Serial entrepreneur Bjarne Skeie claims that the way forward for the tech-savvy region of Agder is, once again: Big ideas!
For the emerging floating offshore wind industry, Skeie’s concept of “a big idea” translates into the design and manufacturing of complete offshore wind installations – including the creation of a new global wind turbine player in a market dominated by giants such as Vestas, Siemens Gamesa, Goldwind, and GE.
“A wind turbine is just a drilling tower turned upside-down. The energy is produced on the top instead of the bottom. And energy, in the form of electricity instead of oil, is transferred to the shore. We know how to do this, we have the technology, we have more capable engineers than ever before, and the ocean is our playground. We should get started,” says Skeie.
Adds the 78-year-old: “If I were younger, I would do it myself!”
Skeie calls for the formation of an industrial offshore wind consortium supported by the Norwegian government.
“The government has never had to support the build-up of the massive supplier industry in Agder. Now, the gov- ernment should support the development of a Norwegian floating wind turbine prototype in our region. We are just one tower and three blades away from knowing everything there is to know about offshore wind. Let’s learn how to make wind turbines, improve them, and sell them as part of a total package,” says Skeie.
“Wind turbines are huge and there are probably many complications, but at the end of the day, it is a pretty simple construction,” says Bjarne Skeie.
Asked if it is not a huge task to go up against established wind giants, Skeie answers:
“Yes, but remember how Kristiansand and the Agder region entered the global offshore drilling market both late and underfunded. Still, we managed to build a cluster of companies that totally dominate the world market. For offshore wind, we have a broader technology base and greater funding from the get-go.”
Like many others these days, Skeie and his Skeie Group companies are transferring technology and competence from oil and gas to renewables, in particular offshore wind. Skeie is a majority owner of Nekkar, a listed company that develops SkyWalker, an innovative wind turbine installation tool. Skeie is also funding a new offshore wind course at the University of Agder and developing a 60,000 square meter commercial facility for energy and offshore wind in Kristiansand.
“Offshore wind presents vast opportunities. We intend to be a market player and a supporter of the region,” says Skeie – before he offers some final thoughts on the construction of wind turbines:
“Our structure should not be very different from the standard, but we need to make some adjustments, find some smarter solutions – like we always have. We know how to do this because a lot of us have done it before. Wind turbines are huge and there are probably many complications, but at the end of the day, it is a pretty simple construction,” says Skeie.