EGEB: A world first: Offshore oil and gas platforms to be powered — by wind

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Equinor offshore oil and gas platforms will be first to be powered by a floating offshore wind farm.
  • Air pollution really does increase coronavirus deaths. Here’s why.
  • Poll: US voters of both parties strongly favor wind energy.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Oil and gas-powered by wind

Norwegian oil giant Equinor has gotten the go-ahead from Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Industry to build and operate the Hywind Tampen floating offshore wind farm in the North Sea.

Now, here’s the twist: This new offshore wind farm will be powering the Snorre and Gullfaks offshore oil and gas platforms. It’s a world first. (Writer’s note: Yes, I’m trying to get my head around the concept of renewables to power fossil fuels, too, in case you think it’s just you.)

Hywind Tampen will feature 11 8MW wind turbines and will be situated around 140km (87 miles) from shore, between the two fossil-fuel platforms. The wind farm will generate 88MW of energy that will meet about 35% of the annual power demand of the oil and gas platforms.

Equinor Norway development and production executive vice-president Arne Sigve Nylund said [via Power Technology]:

Hywind Tampen is a pioneering project and a central contribution to reducing emissions from Gullfaks and Snorre, and I am pleased that both ESA and Norwegian authorities have approved the project.

Air pollution and COVID-19

A Harvard University study at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which was updated on April 5, has confirmed that there is a direct correlation between long-term exposure to air pollution and a higher coronavirus death rate.

This study is the first to confirm a statistical link between coronavirus deaths and air pollution — something public health officials and environmentalists already surmised.

The study’s background states that the majority of pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for coronavirus are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution. They investigated whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter, which is caused by fossil fuels and vehicle emissions, increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths in the US.

The researchers collected data for about 3,000 US counties (98% of the population) for 17 years, up to April 4, 2020.

An increase of one microgram of fine particulates per cubic meter is associated with a 15% increase in the coronavirus death rate. Breathing in fine particulates damages the lungs over time, making it harder for the body to fight respiratory infections.

The study concluded:

A small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 [fine particulate matter] leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times that observed for PM2.5 [fine particulate matter] and all-cause mortality. The study results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Harvard study researcher Xiao Wu said [via the Guardian]:

We should consider additional measures to protect ourselves from pollution exposure to reduce the COVID-19 death toll.

All US voters want clean wind power

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that more than 80% of US voters favor offshore wind energy, with widespread support coming from both Republicans and Democrats and every demographic group across the country, according to a national survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies from March 16 to 19, 2020.

85% of all voters think wind energy is a clean, renewable, and affordable power source of the future, including 80% of Republicans. GOP voters support offshore wind energy for slightly different reasons than Democrats: They cite well-paying, stable jobs and improved economic revitalization for port communities/coastal states.

Further, voters from Gen Z to Millennials to Gen X and Boomers all express 83% to 88% favorability in their support for offshore wind.

AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said:

Republicans and Democrats alike see offshore wind as playing a key role in the nation’s future energy portfolio, providing tremendous economic and environmental benefits and helping stabilize the cost of electricity.

Photo: Equinor illustration of Hywind

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Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.