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Champions Corner: John Olav Tande develops tomorrow’s wind power technology


John Olav Tande, Norway’s MI Champion (first cohort)

John Olav Giæver Tande is Chief Scientist and Research Manager at SINTEF Energy Research (Norway), and a pioneer in floating offshore wind energy. He is the director of the newly launched NorthWind research centre, an 8 year, 31.5 million EUR research centre working on innovations to make wind power cheaper, more efficient, and more sustainable. From 2009 to 2017, he was the Director of NOWITECH (Norwegian Research Centre for Offshore Wind Technology). Both centres have been funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and national/international industry.

Tell us more about your company/organization

SINTEF is one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations. Every year we carry out several thousand projects for customers large and small. We also lead several environmental research centres such as NorthWind, where I am the director.

The NorthWind research centre aims at making wind energy cheaper, more efficient and more sustainable. For this, the centre joins together over 50 research and industry partners, who co-finance NorthWind together with the Norwegian government through the Norwegian Research Council’s Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research program.

The centre will focus on five key research fields – key because the world’s ability to master these particular fields will determine the cost of offshore power production:

  • Digital solutions and models for more efficient operation and maintenance of offshore wind turbines. This includes optimising the energy output of offshore wind farms and the use of “digital twin” methods to predict maintenance needs.
  • Robust structures that must be able to support heavy turbines in a cost-efficient way.
  • Maritime operations for the secure and efficient installation and maintenance of offshore wind farms.
  • Subsea power grids, both in terms of technology and solutions, which enable large wind farms to be established far out at sea.
  • Sustainable development that will contribute to the expansion and operation of offshore wind farms in a way that respects both nature and people.

How have you leveraged being an MI Champion?

One of my main priorities is to ensure that the public debate and the policy decisions regarding wind energy are based on facts. An increased focus on sustainability is a key, as well as an improved engagement of the public throughout the process of establishing new wind energy projects. As a Mission Innovation Champion, I have had the opportunity to reach out to policy makers and make my contribution to a better understanding of the potentials and challenges of wind energy.

Watch this video acknowledging the MI Champion award.

Do you have any upcoming plans that you would like to share with the MI community?

The Norwegian government announced last week its intention of earmarking even more areas in the North Sea for offshore wind development. This will greatly help us to mature the technology and to provide a part of the renewable energy needed for the green transition. Improving the technology and laying the groundwork for a sustainable wind industry in the North Sea will be NorthWind’s primary focus in the coming years.