Left-right: Tom Fidjeland (CEO, GCE NODE), Eva Kvelland (Director Market and Communications, Sparebanken Sør), Jan Oddvar Skisland (Mayor of Kristiansand), Geir Bergskaug (CEO, Sparebanken Sør), Sanne Jordan (incoming Project Manager Offshore Wind, GCE NODE) and Rune Klausen (Project Manager, Fremtidens Havvind).

The Norwegian National Competence Center for Offshore Wind will be established in Kristiansand before the summer.

This was announced Friday. The center is funded by the Norwegian government and a generous gift from the regional bank, Sparebanken Sør.

“Last year, we received NOK 5 million from the government for the establishment of a national competence center. That was a starting point and an encouragement to get going. Now, Sparebanken Sør has equipped us with running shoes. The first appointments of key personnel are expected before the summer,” says Jan Oddvar Skisland, Mayor of Kristiansand.

He was pleased to learn about Sparebanken Sør’s donation of NOK 30 million over three years. The bank would like to contribute to the development of an industry well suited for the Agder region’s strong offshore technology expertise.

“Right now, in Agder, nothing is hotter than offshore wind. The region has come together to take a leading national position. Competence provides a competitive edge. By allocating funds for the establishment and operation of a national competence center, we will attract talented people and players that will contribute to the transformation and development of an entire region,” says Geir Bergskaug, CEO of Sparebanken Sør.

His thoughts are met with excitement among offshore wind players in Southern Norway.

“This is a fantastic gift and recognition from Sparebanken Sør! The establishment of a national competence center for offshore wind in Kristiansand is a clear signal of where the leading Norwegian offshore wind environment is located. We believe the center will attract national and international players with ambitions for the development of offshore wind on the Norwegian Continental Shelf,” say Tom Fidjeland, CEO of GCE NODE, and Rune Klausen, Project Manager at Fremtidens Havvind, an offshore cooperation project in Agder.

“Offshore wind is a relatively new industry in Norway. To succeed, we need new insights and expertise within law, ecology, technology, and social economy. A national competence center will contribute to that,” says Fidjeland.

Agder was the only region that received earmarked funds for the development of offshore wind expertise when the Norwegian National Budget was presented last fall.

“Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Energy have played active parts in this process. It is great to see that five million in government funds can trigger 30 million in private funds. We have received clear signals that the center will receive increased allocations in the national budget going forward. Kristiansand will be a national hub for offshore wind expertise,” says Mayor Skisland.

Fidjeland and Klausen are also certain that the competence center will receive more money.

“Signals are very positive. More companies will contribute to the competence center. In 2024, the center is likely to have a turnover of more than NOK 20 million, which translates to between 15 and 20 employees,” says Klausen.

GCE NODE and Fremtidens Havvind are now looking for a location for the competence center.

“We are also in the process of appointing a Board of Directors and an advisory body,” says Klausen.

Terje Aasland, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, finds the establishment of the national competence center for offshore wind in Kristiansand to be important.

“I am very happy that Agder takes a distinct role to bring out all the opportunities in the offshore wind area. The fact that Agder establishes a strong professional competence center for offshore wind is of great importance. We are in the middle of a call for the first licenses for offshore wind on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and we need strong, Norwegian expertise environments to succeed in offshore wind, both in Norway and internationally. This center in Kristiansand will be important,” says Aasland.