Key role for offshore sector: boosting the energy transition
Kijk op Groot Amsterdam magazine, edition June 2021, featured the following interview with Sylvia Boer and Dorothy Winters about the energy transition in the North Sea Canal region. Here is our translation for you from the original Dutch.
The message from ‘offshore ladies’ Sylvia Boer (director Amsterdam IJmuiden Offshore Ports - AYOP) and Dorothy Winters (AYOP programme manager offshore wind) is clear: “The region around the North Sea Canal is playing a key role in the energy transition. It is a shame that many people don’t see the potential of the sector or understand the importance of ports and the supply industry for the energy transition.” Time to make a change.
The energy transition – the shift from grey, fossil fuels to green (wind) energy – is much closer and far more concrete than people generally realise, says Winters. “Although the process is fully underway, many still speak of it as something that will happen in the future. But the developments have already accelerated and involve many different dimensions,” Boer adds. “You can’t just turn off the oil or gas supply and switch to green energy. Gas is a transition fuel which is essential to making the transition from grey to green. Experts expect that only half of the total energy consumption can be provided by green energy in 2050. While energy companies are starting a number of sustainable initiatives, which we applaud, we have to remain realistic. You cannot simply switch to green from one moment to the next, it’s just not possible.”
Important role for AYOP members
Many AYOP members are already involved in the transition developments; organisations active in or associated with the offshore sector and located or operating in the North Sea Canal area. Boer: “As an association we have ways to realise wind farms at sea together. We act as a strategic partner and bring together parties from across the entire supply chain. And not only in the field of new energy; we’re also involved in the circular disassembly of former production platforms and reuse of existing infrastructure…. Our members play a role in this area too. As an association, we facilitate connections between members as well as with clients and other stakeholders. It is our task to identify developments at an early stage, further stimulate them and engage relevant stakeholders. We do more than just watch the shop floor; we are proactive. This enables AYOP to offer added value to its members, which is why they pay their membership fees in the first place.”
In 2020, the ‘Energy Port IJmuiden’ covenant was signed. With more and more wind farms being built on the North Sea in the coming years, the Energy Port will serve as an important base for their installation and maintenance. AYOP members are closely involved in these developments as well.
Winters: “The Amsterdam Metropolitan Region is one of the largest regions in the Netherlands, and AYOP acts as a vital radar regarding the energy transition. We have a strong region.” Boer: “This is also because we are open to working with other areas such as Den Helder and Rotterdam. It is part of the region’s DNA to learn from each other’s knowledge and developments. The energy transition also demands partnerships. And as a region, we want to be a frontrunner. Our ambitions are high and we believe that AYOP can make a substantial contribution.”
Winters: “As a region, we are sometimes atypically modest. We have so many wonderful, specialised companies in the region that provide lots of employment and turnover. Moreover, we are at the heart of a crucial infrastructure. This includes our current development as a logistical hub for power cables that run from shore to the wind farms. Our own region alone will increase capacity tenfold by 2030. Tennet is installing five ‘power points’ off our coast and these will require maintenance. We are on the spot and can provide the required specialist companies, equipment and know-how. That’s something to be proud of and it’s our task to showcase these skills and let people know what we do on a daily basis.”
Broad range of activities
Boer: “We need lots of staff to do the work, and we need to make people passionate for a sector that is relatively unknown among the younger generation. It is in our blood. We are ‘offshore ladies’, and we have always been aware of this world. But so many people are not, which is a shame as the sector offers so many challenging jobs and so much employment. The offshore sector and region offer countless opportunities, including many new functions such as flying drones or in IT.” Winters: “It’s not just people in overalls wearing hard hats who are flying or sailing to work on turbines. The range of activities extends far beyond. Working in the wind sector is a combination of electrotechnology, IT and mechanical engineering. Some people work at heights, others on the ground level.”
Introduction to the sector
Boer: “It is also important to work with educational institutes. We are always looking for good, strategic partners and have already found a few, such as Techport and Nova College. We are now working on a pilot to compose a pool of interns and trainees to better align business and education. There is a clear demand from companies, with 25 already showing a keen interest. This can be a fine introduction to the sector for those who are unfamiliar with it. And we really need these people, these future experts. Because as stated, the energy transition is developing at high speed and, as a region, we aim to keep playing a pivotal role.”