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European energy exec bullish on offshore wind, partly thanks to Trump

 Ørsted Power Station, situated at Sydhavnen in Copenhagen
Ørsted Power Station, situated at Sydhavnen in Copenhagen. Photo: Klaus Gnnter J÷rgenshaus/Getty Images

Danish company Ørsted, whose North American President Thomas Brostrøm spoke at The Atlantic Council Thursday, is among numerous firms bidding for government-administered wind leases offshore America’s mid-Atlantic coastlines.

Why it matters: Offshore wind is a rare renewable energy the Trump administration is actively supporting. There’s currently only one offshore wind farm in the U.S., off Rhode Island.

The big picture: Ørsted is at the leading edge of Europe’s traditional oil and natural-gas companies that are transforming into producers of cleaner energy sources. Formerly known as Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG), the company changed its name last year and has been shifting away from fossil fuels to renewables, particularly wind, in the last several years.

Trump administration influence: Brostrøm said the U.S. Interior Department is supporting the development of offshore wind, particularly by helping to streamline the permitting process. That’s an “area that is a little bit more cumbersome here,” Brostrøm said, comparing it to Europe.

  • He went on to say that here in the U.S., and with this administration, creating jobs and helping to produce more domestic sources of energy are paramount. “We firmly believe climate change is also happening,” Brostrøm said. “The other areas I mentioned are bigger drivers right now.”

What’s driving corporate interest in offshore wind: Brostrøm said it’s more the market than the 2015 Paris climate deal: “My view is that costs are coming down and it gets competitive. Ultimately [that’s] what is driving the market.”

Where the company is looking to develop in the U.S.: Up and down the East Coast to the Carolinas and eventually California, Brostrøm said. The company already has two projects under development off Massachusetts and New Jersey, with more in the works elsewhere.