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Vestland County: A «green wind» sweeping over Vestland

Sølve Sondbø, section leader for Green business infrastructure in Vestland county.
Sølve Sondbø, section leader for Green business infrastructure in Vestland county.

- We are experiencing a green development that is going at full speed. And it's no longer just plans, we're in full swing.

So says Sølve Sondbø, section leader for Green business infrastructure in Vestland county in Norway.

The county municipality has been involved in GCE Ocean Technology ever since the establishment in 2006, and sees the cluster as a useful tool for green value creation.

Important point of contact

The Vestland County Municipality has a slightly different starting point compared with other partners and members.

– We have no commercial interest, but a social commitment where we work to ensure that Vestland is a leader. Both on everything to do with the ocean, and not least within green value chains, says Sondbø.

He highlights the County Council as an important point of contact for the authorities, in order to contribute to the best possible framework conditions for the industry in the district.

– Now that the oil and gas activity is going down, we have to use the expertise here in the west to meet the transition that is underway. We want green business growth and cutting the emissions, but at the same time we want increased exports of goods, thus we must take advantage of our expertise and everything we have learned over the years. The experience gained from the petroleum industry gives Vestland a competitive advantage in the green transition that is underway.

Many possibilities

Vestland county contributes with advice, networking, financial support for projects and various grants to help actors achieve green growth.

– We are part owners of Innovation Norway, which distributes a lot of funds to various initiatives. There are many opportunities, especially if you have good networks and collaborate to find good solutions, as is done in GCE Ocean Technology, one of the best clusters in the world in its field, says Sondbø.

The County Municipality also promotes Vestland's interests and build competence networks in collaboration with the educational institutions.

– We are keen to train a qualified workforce with the right knowledge who is ready to meet the challenges we face, including in floating offshore wind where there is great export potential. This will be a massive investment in the coming years, where the government has announced the first call for tenders early next year.

Sondbø believes it is crucial that educational institutions in the broadest sense qualify for the working life of the future.

– Among other things, we are concerned with improving skills in order to realize green circular industry and to contribute to infrastructure for new green industry. Access to renewable energy for the industry is among the things that will be decisive for success going forward.

Huge investments

Sølve Sondbø also refers to a number of other projects in the county.

Among other things, the plans for blue hydrogen production at the CCB Energy Park in Kollsnes, which involve huge investments. A pilot plant is now being built here; the first in the world to produce blue hydrogen with integrated capture of CO₂.

Equinor has experience from Hywind in Scotland and Hywind Tampen in Norway. Now they are planning the floating offshore wind farm Trollvind outside Bergen, together with several large partners.

Trollvind will be able to supply the Troll and Oseberg fields, as well as the processing plant at Kollsnes, with electricity, and this could start in 2027.

Lots of news

– These are just two examples of new major projects, and there is upcoming news that should interest the members of GCE Ocean Technology. Among other things from the budget settlement that was concluded between the governing parties and SV, says Sondbø.

Here, the government will come up with a plan to introduce a system for contracts for difference (CFD) for hydrogen during 2023.

There will also be requirements for low emissions for offshore vessels with the aim of introduction from 2025 and zero emissions from 2029, or equivalent requirements that give the same emission effect.

– We also recently received the news that shipping will be covered by the EU's quota system for CO₂, which will be a major driving force for change. We know that certain fjords in Western Norway will have zero emissions as early as 2026, says Sondbø.

He also mentions sustainable deep sea mining as a field with great potential.

– Here we can retrieve resources from the seabed using underwater technology. In other words, a perfect fit for GCE Ocean Technology!

Contact Information

Owe Hagesæther

Chief Executive Officer

Owe Hagesæther


Vestland County was established on 1 January 2020, and consists of the former counties of Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane.

The county:

• has approx. 640,000 inhabitants.
• is the fifth largest county in Norway with 34,000 km².
• has 43 municipalities and all have coastlines.


Vestland County is one of 18 partners from industry, R&D, academia and public bodies, which has recently signed a new 5-year agreement with GCE Ocean Technology.

The partners in the cluster are the leading force, and the backbone of the cluster's strategic work.

The partners get access to various arenas and projects where they meet potential customers, suppliers and partners.

Here, valuable knowledge is developed and shared between the cluster's +150 partners, members and collaborators.