Thomas Brostrøm
President, Ørsted North America

The offshore wind energy industry is on the cusp of breaking out in the U.S., with the government anticipating 2,000 turbines with 22 gigawatts of capacity in federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean over 10 years.

In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Thomas Brostrøm, whose company is a leader in the industry around the world. Thomas is the president of Ørsted North America and CEO for Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind. He joined Bill from Boston to talk about plans that Ørsted Energy has to build wind farms in waters up and down the U.S. East Coast.

All told, Ørsted has 10 offshore wind farms in the U.S., including ones in Rhode Island and Virginia that are the first to operate in this country.

Throughout the world, Ørsted has built more offshore wind farms than any other developer. By 2022, it expects to expand its offshore wind capacity to nearly 10 gigawatts, with projects in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

This from a business once known as Danish Oil and Gas Company. Thomas and Bill talk about the transition that Ørsted has undergone in recent years and whether it serves as a model for other fossil fuel companies looking to move into greener forms of energy.

They also look at the policy and economic factors promoting investments in U.S. offshore wind by Ørsted and other companies, the economic development that could accompany the industry’s emergence here, and the challenges it faces in moving ahead.

Prior to joining Ørsted, Thomas was in the investment banking and venture capital business.

 

Transcript

[00:00:02]
Bill Loveless:  Hello and welcome to Columbia Energy Exchange, a weekly podcast from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, I am Bill Loveless.  Today, we’ll take a look at the outlook for offshore wind energy development in the United States with a man whose company is a leader in the industry around the world. Thomas Brostrom joins us from Boston to talk about plans that Orsted Energy has to build wind farms in waters up and down the U.S. East Coast.  He is the President of Orsted North America and the CEO for Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind.  All told, Orsted has ten offshore wind farms in the U.S. including ones in Rhode Island and Virginia that are the first to operate in this country.  Throughout the world, Orsted has built more offshore wind farms than any other developer.  By 2022, it expects to expand its offshore wind capacity to nearly 10 gigawatts with projects in the U.S., Europe and Asia.  This from a company once known as Danish Oil and Gas Company.  We talk about the transition that Orsted has undergone in recent years and whether it serves as a model for other fossil fuel companies who are looking to move into greener forms of energy.  We also look at the policy and economic factors promoting investments in U.S. offshore wind by Orsted and other companies.  The economic development that could accompany the industry’s emergence here and the challenges it faces in moving ahead.  Prior to joining Orsted, Thomas was in the investment banking and venture capital business.  Well, here’s our conversation.  I hope you enjoy it.  Thomas Brostrom, welcome to Columbia Energy Exchange.

[00:01:49]
Thomas Brostrom:  Well, thank you.  Thank you for having me.

[00:01:52]
Bill Loveless:  Well, it’s a delight.  There is certainly a lot happening in this field in offshore wind energy and the United States not to mention around the rest of the world, but first tell us a little bit about your career, yourself, and how you get into this line of work?

[00:02:08]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, sure.  So, I’ve been with the company for almost 12 years. I joined when we were Danish Oil and Natural Gas back in 2009 and we were obviously working in the field of oil and gas exploration, but we also happened to have built a couple of offshore wind farms in the past and I actually joined to accelerate the growth in offshore wind.  So, it’s been in that sense a tremendous journey.  I mean I’m from Denmark, but moved to the U.S. and Boston five years ago to see if we could get the offshore wind towards to takeoff on the other side of the thorn.  Then I brought my family over from Copenhagen and yeah we’re enjoying life in the U.S. for sure.

[00:02:54]
Bill Loveless:  As we’re speaking, I am in Narragansett, Rhode Island not far from your company’s Block Island Wind Farm which we’ve talked about on this program before back with Jeff Karbowski when he was heading up that effort and, in the past, had some really good discussions about that.  What was then the -- certainly the first, but and now of course is one of two wind farms in the U.S.  We can talk about a little bit more about that later.  You mentioned Danish Oil Natural Gas Company the former name for Orsted.  And I’d like to talk a little bit about the company because it’s gone through an interesting transition you know, at a time when some major oil companies are diversifying their portfolios to include renewable energy, Orsted has already completed its transition from an oil and gas company.  I was reading a story this morning by Benjamin Storrow of E&E News who wrote that of Orsted that today a renewable energy giant stands in the place once occupied by a small fossil fuel company.  Tell us about that transition?

[00:04:03]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah.  I mean it’s quite a remarkable transition that has gone pretty fast.  So, over the last 10 years, we have pretty much transformed our company from started out by saying we have a lot of oil and gas expertise -- have a lot of expertise working offshore and we happened to have built just a couple of offshore wind farms in the early 90s.  So, we had a bit of experience there and we were really reacting to politicians in Denmark, in the UK and actually also the society wanting more response of energy.  And we took a big bet saying we think the world will move towards more climate friendly energy and we thought this would be a nice niche because the wind is very powerful at sea you can get very close to what is the load centers and there’s a lot of the large cities, you know, on the planet are close to the coastline.  So, we could see the fundamentals making a lot of sense.  So, we’re starting investing a lot into that field, but at the same time we were going through a pretty significant crunch when the gas prices were promising and -- we didn’t have the cashflow to quite frankly fuel our growth ambition within offshore wind.  So, we went out and raised capital through equity and had Goldman Sachs come in order for us to be able to actually accelerate the growth.  So, that was the early days and also the point in time when offshore wind was expensive.  The turbines were smaller, the technology was not as mature, you had not been able to standardize and get the scale that you know, from other industries.  So, that was obviously the challenge we had, this is expensive.  But then a few countries that really wanted to address climate change, suddenly you get the volume, you get the new technology, you get the investments, you see costs come down by I think it’s close to 80% over the last five, six years alone so a tremendous journey on the cost side of things.

[00:06:16]
Bill Loveless:  Yeah, it was a big bet, but one that paid off?

[00:06:19]
Thomas Brostrom:  Absolutely -- absolutely.  And you can just look at our stock price I mean how market cap has gone from I think around five, ten U.S. billion dollars and now we’re looking at -- at 50 - 60 U.S. billion dollars in the last two, three years.  So, that has been paying off.

[00:06:37]
Bill Loveless:  More than many energy companies?

[00:06:40]
Thomas Brostrom:  That is true, that is true.

[00:06:42]
Bill Loveless:  You know, I was noticing as well there was a panel of judges at the Harvard Business Review that ranked Orsted as one of the top corporate makeovers of the last decade behind the likes of Netflix, Amazon.com and Microsoft.  It was the only energy company on the list.

[00:07:00]
Thomas Brostrom:  You know, obviously we are super proud to be among those big brands.  And I think it’s a fantastic story and also, it’s a very meaningful and visionary journey we’ve set ourselves on, so we’ll continue that that journey and again it’s -- there’s a lot of growth out there and we’ll be pursuing that.

[00:07:22]
Bill Loveless:  Thomas, what lessons including hard lessons can one take from Orsted’s transformation and would they necessarily apply to big oil and gas companies?

[00:07:35]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah.  I mean I think you can take the lessons that you have to be a bit bold, that’s number one.  You need to take some calculated bets, but you also need to look at what is the skill base you have in your company.  And if you’re an oil and gas company, you have actually a lot of the skills on the engineering side and, as I said, working offshore that you can use.  And then you have to be a bit I think long-term in your view, the stop-and-go nature doesn’t really work, you need to keep investing even if there’ll be years that’ll be a bit hard.  I think when you look at also being able to attract talent and you know, keep building on your companies actually there is a lot of new millennia that will like to come into this kind of industry as well.  And if you are a bit long-term, I think you’ll start to invest more and more into that.  And I would also say that things are moving very fast and look to what the customers want and I think it’s pretty clear no matter where you are on -- on Earth you want something that is better for the society and not only low-cost electricity.

[00:08:47]
Bill Loveless:  It seems too that you were in the position or Orsted was in the position of moving entirely to the green side and not having to maintain a viable oil and gas business at the same time that it was moving aggressively into renewables?

[00:09:03]
Thomas Brostrom:  I mean that’s true, but we did have actually we were fuel, bio oil and gas for Fossil Media, there’s no question about that and coal for that matter.  And I think that’s part of your planning that you need to make sure you have the cash flow from your existing business to actually fuel the growth into maybe a new investment area.  That -- that’s important, but it would -- it will hurt a bit because you’re going away from something you’re comfortable with into something that is a bit new.  And -- and maybe you’re not making the amount of money short-term that you would like, but you know that’s coming in over time.  So, that’s what you need to manage how you manage that transition.  And also for us, I mean it takes three, four five years before you’ve actually started to develop that you construct them and -- and bring them online and you’ll see the revenue start to flow in.  You need to be able to bridge that period of where you’re going through the transition.  And I would add that I think we were fortunate being actually owned by the Danish State, they were patient, they bear with us for three, four, five years when things were tough knowing that they would become much better.  That can be tougher when you have to deal with Wall Street and more short to focus so let’s back to my point.  You have to be a bit bold and persistent here because it’s not sort of happening over night.

[00:10:21]
Bill Loveless:  That’s an important point the government ownership or partial ownership of the company.  Well, let’s talk about offshore winds in the United States, give us a lay of the land or maybe that isn’t the right term, maybe it’s more lay of the water front, regarding offshore wind energy development in the United States.  There is a whole heck of a lot of potential, but it seems we’re still scratching the surface.

[00:10:46]
Thomas Brostrom:  In many ways yes, but it’s been a fantastic last four, five years where you’ve seen so many states especially on the eastern sea port come out in a big way demanding electricity from offshore wind and have set very visionary and bold targets.  So, we’re looking at a market that is opening up now close to 30 gigawatts that is basically committed between New England and down to the Mid-Atlantic and Virginia and the Carolinas, so that is explosive growth and as I said coming off the plane and then early 2015 where there was pretty much no offshore wind farm activity going on set aside for Block Island which we’re very proud about what deep-water wind did for that project, but there was no -- there were no growth targets.

So, in that sense it has been phenomenal.  Now, we’re trying to build up an industry where you also get some of the benefits on the economic development side and you’re trying to stand up a new industry and build a local supply chain because we don’t want to send components over the Atlantic all the you know, forever you want to build up a local supply chain as well.  And that takes time to have an educated workforce, to work with universities, to work with unions and obviously starting with the areas that makes more sense which would be parts and the infrastructure that can handle these large components.  Remember these last turbines are sort of seven, eight hundred feet to the tip of the road or so, you need the infrastructure in place that can handle that.  So, generally we’re in a very good spot to see the activity also from oil and gas may just come into the industry and the interest that we’re seeing.  And I don’t see that that’s going to change actually forward so there will be more appetite.

[00:12:47]
Bill Loveless:  Yeah, you mentioned the states and of course they have been big drivers of this industry.  New York now claims the largest offshore wind target in the United States of nine gigawatts by 2035.  Other states too in the North East as well as the Mid Atlantic have some pretty ambitious goals too.  Describe the relevance of these state initiatives, the importance of state policy in -- enabling this new industry?

[00:13:17]
Thomas Brostrom:  Oh, they are very important.  I mean I think a lot of the energy policy sits on -- sit with the state level.  So, without those very clear mandates as we see New York for instance many states in Mid Atlantic and New England, we wouldn’t be here as a company for sure and many of the others wouldn’t.  So, that that’s absolutely that’s key and to provide a market where you have visibility, where you set up solicitations you know what’s coming up, that means that you can plan as a company and make investments that you need and that kind of stability is super important.  So, yeah that is very important and very happy to see what’s happening and it’s good that it’s happening at the same time because then you get the -- the scale and nice I think the states are benefitting from others having bold ambitious on behalf of offshore build out.

[00:14:10]
Bill Loveless:  And the policies vary from state to state, right – each state has its own objectives and what it’s looking for, some may concentrate to a greater extent than others on local economic development although I think most of the states are looking for something along those lines.  But you know, they consider -- they take into consideration the cost of the electricity that would be coming into their state.  What -- how much does it vary from state to state and what are some of the considerations?

[00:14:38]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, I mean it’s -- it does vary, but you know, price is important, but I think it’s also fair to say that states are interested in seeing investments coming in into the supply chain, jobs are important this is skilled jobs.  Obviously, there is a lot who’s had big industries in maybe fishing or the whaling industry and others and -- and look into revitalize some of the communities up and down the coast and offshore wind can play a key role there.  And then are things actually also energy independence, other than decarbonization.  For some states being able to have control of their own energy sources is pretty important instead of being importing, but give and take, it comes down to being able to have the track record, being able to deliver the projects, have the finance and muscle, the energy to do it and obviously the price and economic development you can offer those are the things that the states are considering when they are having their solicitations.

[00:15:46]
Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  Of course, federal policy is important too and you rely on the federal government to lease the acreage offshore for most of these projects, virtually all of them that are pending now.  Last year when I was talking to Jeff Kabowski it was about the time that the -- the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management which of course leases these tracks offshore began a -- a rather extensive and to many people surprising comprehensive review -- environmental review of the impact of offshore wind development on various things fishing, other industries.  And that -- a draft of that came out from the Bureau recently and the -- they anticipate making a final record of decision later this year some saw that that extended study as a -- as a setback.  I mean was it in your mind a delay, I should say that it delayed you know, the further development of -- of not only Vineyard Wind which was the project that -- where the study began, but also projects by your company and others?

[00:16:53]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, I think it’s not surprising that the federal authority, BOEM or the Interior, are asking for a cumulative impact when you’re going from basically zero to 20, 30 a gigawatt of offshore wind.  It is fair that you wanted to take stock of what does that mean to all the ocean uses and take a socioeconomic assessment of that.  We -- we saw the same thing in the UK -- in UK around 2009-10 when that market took off.  So, that I think that makes sense.  That said, I think now it’s time to move on because there has been ample time now to receive comments so you can move on fair and square.  And I -- I mean we would hope that the federal will now take the feedback and -- and move forward because we have billions of dollars lined up just us a company are looking at 10-15 billion dollars in the next four five years and you can multiply that with all the other big companies looking to invest into offshore wind.  And if you start to get too much uncertainty obviously you have a global market and then your attention may start to go elsewhere.  And so, I think I understand why they are doing it, but it’s time to certainly time to move -- move forward now and yeah that’s -- that’s what we all hope for and I think there -- there should be progress on the way.

[00:18:09]
Bill Loveless:  Of course, as we mentioned that the bureau says it intends to get a final record of decision by the end of the year.  Something else that happens by the end of year is the -- the phase out -- the complete phase out as I understand that the production tax credit that the wind energy industry enjoys, right?  What will that mean for the industry or is that already been baked in to projects like Orsted’s and those of other companies?

[00:18:33]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah.  I think again offshore wind being a relatively newer industry.  I mean we would like to see the -- the investment tax credits or the production tax credits being extended as we’ve seen for onshore wind which is for natural reasons more mature than off shore.  Should that not happen then obviously that would have an impact on the price that developers are willing to build that because it is a federal subsidy you cannot tap into anymore.  On the other side, I think you’ll get more mature as a market, you’ll see the risk being lower and you’ll see new technology coming, so that will offset some of the let’s say loss you would have from not being able to tap into -- to tax credits.  So, but I still I would hope that for another few years that you’d be able to get the federal incentives as you see from other renewable industries so that would be very helpful to really accelerate the offshore wind industry in North America.

[00:19:32]
Bill Loveless:  I know you serve, as I recall, on the board of the American Wind Energy Association, the trade group for your industry in the United States.  I mean is this part of their agenda to try to get some extension of the production tax credit or other tax credits or other incentives and if so what would they be?

[00:19:51]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, I think we always have that in the -- in the back it’s -- I think it’s a bit of different discussion as I said depending on what industry you’re looking at.  So, it is certainly something we’re talking to relevant decisionmakers about.  It gives a bit this uncertainty always if you only have it sort of one year at the time.  So it would be helpful if you could get a little bit more long horizon and you can make an agreement saying hey we need this for X number of years and after that we are mature enough as an industry to stand on our own feet and then we will not come back asking for let’s say subsidies, that will be the ideal I think scenario.  So, I think it’s fair to say we would like to see the tax credits being extended.

[00:20:37]
Bill Loveless:  You know, the Trump administration has announced to plan some changes in the processes for the -- for the National Environmental Policy Act environmental reviews, from what you see of that proposal, is there anything there that can benefit offshore wind?

[00:20:54]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, I think obviously permitting is an area that is very critical to building projects that basically dictates your timeline and how fast you can build a project, so things where you can streamline and you can make it more efficient.  We’ve seen that again from mature markets in Europe that early on you were typically using 24 to 30 months to get the permits and now that’s come down to I think 16 months for instance in the UK and because you’ve learned a lot what to look after for.  That is what we’re hoping for would also having a year again and again.  You don’t have this one stop shop as you have in Europe, but you have a lead agency, but they have to coordinate with I don’t know how many agencies, but 15 20 agencies and that creates probably a process that it’s a little bit more cumbersome than it need to be.  So, we obviously very open to share the experience we’ve had around the globe and other developers are as well, so -- that’s kind of our approach we come in and saying the lessons learned and here are areas where we think we could actually improve without compromising you know, our stakeholders, yeah.

[00:22:09]
Bill Loveless:  Yeah, tell us about a couple of the -- you’ve got I think 10 projects Orsted has 10 projects in the United States offshore wind projects, including a couple of quite substantial ones in size, you also have your what is now the second wind farm in the United States.  It’s only two turbines off the coast of Virginia, but it’s a stepping stone to a massive project that that will be built eventually off the Old Dominion.  Talk to us a little bit about some of the projects?

[00:22:40]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, but starting with that two turbine projects so it’s right that Orsted has build that for Dominion who’s the owner I should add we had a great partnership with -- with Dominion for that project, but that’s the first project in federal waters and we’ve got some valuable experience also in committing a project in federal waters in addition to the Block Island project.  So, I think it just makes it more tangible it can be done and again we did this in the middle of COVID-19, so huge kudos to our teams and our suppliers for getting that that done.  Now obviously we all very eager to move into the large-scale projects which are the ones that makes sense from an economic standpoint and we have a portfolio now of almost -- almost 3000 megawatts between Northeast and New York and Mid Atlantic.  And so, we are in the development phase for all these projects, we still have to obtain obviously the permits.  Once we have obtained those, we would go into the construction phase in the early 2020s.  And you’ll see turbine spinning in 23, 24, 25, that’s kind of the timeline we are looking at.  But at the same time, we are working to invest a lot into ports, New London and Connecticut as an example, Rhode Island we’re investing a lot into ports there.  We’re trying to stand up the first manufacturing facility in New Jersey as well.  So that’s a lot going on for us, but also just showing how much potential -- how important U.S. market is for a company like -- like us.

[00:24:23]
Bill Loveless:  How long will it be Thomas before we see a substantial manufacturing and assembly capability in the United States so that all of the parts aren’t be shipped from Europe to U.S. ports.  When will we see that sort of you know, industrial muscle in the United States?

[00:24:45]
Thomas Brostrom:  You’d see some right out the -- the deck over here, so on the port side to set this facility for modern times, for the foundations, a lot of activity around the -- the service ports will be called the operation and maintenance ports.  Then obviously the question is when will you see the last OEMs on the turbine side to set of facility you saw it for the land based wind industry that that took some years, but once that market was big enough you saw all the big guys setting up production facilities in the Mid West and -- and elsewhere.  And that will be the same picture you would see in -- in off shore, that now you have 20, 30 gigawatt markets, but still a bit of uncertainty on the permitting that you need to get through, but then that would be enough growth for one of the big OEMs at least to set up a facility.  And I think you’ll see something happening sooner rather than later, there’s no question about it.  And then you have to sort of start looking at vessels you have you know, the Jones Act rule here if you will.  So you need to figure out a solution here to have a homegrown vessel built.  So, I think you’ll see a lot happening already now, but -- and it’s hard to see you know, when you would have the majority of their components made in the U.S. that that’s probably something that’ll take a few years.

[00:26:10]
Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  How big of an impediment is the Jones Act, that’s a law that of course that requires and tell me if I am misstating this, but requires the U.S. flag vessels for shipment of goods between U.S. ports?

[00:26:25]
Thomas Brostrom:  I mean it’s obviously not necessarily helpful for what we’re doing given that there -- there are no modern what we call jack-up vessels that are Jones Act flagged and manned and you know, American built.  So, you have to come out with -- you have to basically use sub optimal solutions until you have a new vessel that is built.  And that that will happen, but again that somebody needs to have a business case and somebody needs to put a lot of money to work.  And so again I think that’s a matter of getting a little bit more comfortable with the U.S. market is -taken off and then you see investment into Jones Act vessels too.  It’s not a -- it’s not a huge issue, you can built the projects without it, you also saw Block Island and that the project off the coast of Virginia we did that without Jones Act Vessels, but to built at scale and at this phase you want to have the best equipment and that would be a U.S. compliant jack-up vessel.

[00:27:20]
Bill Loveless:  What, as we talk about this development going forward, I mean what could go wrong in your mind in terms of whether it’s policy or business development or whatever?

[00:27:30]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, I mean I think you have what you need in terms of the -- market and the very ambitious carve-out mandate from the states. So, you’re down to permitting, you’re down to maybe a bit of nature in the U.S. society.   Will that scare people away I don’t think so.  But I think the minute you have a frame for the permitting, you’ve seen the first couple of projects go through that, you know the process.  I mean I don’t see much can actually go wrong because you have to look at the market fundamentals and off shore wind just makes perfect sense when you’re at the especially the East Coast, it’s very close to the load centers, it’s very hard to come in with meaningful different alternatives, so I am very optimistic in that sense.  It’s just a little bit of hill you have to climb now, and once you are up on top of that, I actually think it is going to be a -- a bit of a downhill for -- for many years that’s at least what we’re hoping for.

[00:28:27]
Bill Loveless:  One thing I always find exciting to talk about is new technology and you certainly got some exciting new technology in the wind energy business especially when it comes to turbines.  Tell us a little bit what’s going on there?

[00:28:39]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah.  It’s fascinating to see how much has happened and I normally say that the first project that that was build and we built that back in the early 90s was eleven turbines and a total of five megawatts.  And now we’re looking at one turbine today that is 10, 12, even closer to 15 megawatts in the next few years which means that what was eleven turbines would now translate into 25 30 turbines to produce the same as -- as one turbine can today.  So that tells a bit about advancement we’ve seen in the -- in the technology.  And likewise you’re seeing that more powerful cabling and -- but it’s back to, you’re now starting to be able to work as a more as an industry and you can standardize and you can get the benefits of a large scale production and that simply just takes -- it takes out cost.  And the vessels you use are getting faster, so you can quicker install the turbines and put in the past and again compressing the construction timelines and getting quicker access to the revenues.  It’s just a good way of being able to lower the cost and the price you can offer.  So, there is a lot going on when it comes to R&D and then technology and we’re getting more mature, but I am pretty sure exactly in a couple of years again you would see further advancement have taken place in the meantime.

[00:30:04]
Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  I imagine there is some projects you have on the further out on your horizon where you can anticipate the equipment you’ll be -- you’ll use will be far different than what might be installed the next two or three years?

[00:30:16]
Thomas Brostrom:  That -- that’s right.  The further you get out then again you maybe access that with helicopters and other things to reduce the time, there’ll be floating offshore wind -- years out in the future that can basically be built on very deep sea.  So, there are number of things I am sure there will be much more mature in a few years -- few years time.

[00:30:39]
Bill Loveless:  What about the cost of electricity from offshore two times, I realize first of their kind projects are expensive and their -- and their electric rates are high that was certainly the case with Block -- the Block Island Wind Farm to -- to no one’s surprise.  But in terms of the -- the cost whether it’s per kilo watt hour or whatever I mean how competitive is it with the rates the cost of electricity that people are getting from onshore plants these days?

[00:31:05]
Thomas Brostrom:  It’s getting much more competitive.  It is obviously hard to compare I think the North East of the United States to the Mid West because it would always be more expensive in the North East because you have congestion and it is hard to get in with the transmission and the infrastructure.  But you -- you see the pricing for offshore in the U.S. you’re looking at $70 to a $100 per megawatt hour.  If you go to Europe, you’ll bid lower because it’s more mature markets and you see basically year by year cost are -- are trending downwards.  So that’s kind of what we’re looking at, so I think reasonably priced, but you can still -- you can still improve.  If you were to build a -- a new nuclear facility a coal power plant that will be significantly more expensive than -- than new offshore wind farm.  And -- then I will say gas is pretty competitive, shale gas, but that has obviously other -- other issues.

[00:32:04]
Bill Loveless:  Right.  Well we’re -- we’re at a topic that comes up all the time now, but we all look to where things might be in a post COVID world.  What can be the role of offshore energy in a world in which we’re past this pandemic?

[00:32:22]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah.  I mean it obviously can play a role to boost the economy again and there are a lot of jobs associated with offshore wind, I think we are estimating 80 to a 100,000 from offshore wind if you were build out the -- the 20-30 gigawatt, so that’s a very tangible and then meaningful job number.  But then I told about the new supply chain you’re starting to -- you’re starting to stand up and I think that can actually be a catalyst for post COVID-19 world.  So, I think there’s definitely a role to play for offshore wind and then renewables and we could maybe do a better job of also explaining you know, why offshore wind can actually help the economy and -- and the society.  And we’re looking to hire skilled people, but also people that can quickly come in you know, and then maybe in six months can get trained to go offshore and work.  So, you’re -- you’re looking at very different skill classes, it’s not only blue color or white color it’s a -- it’s a mix of both.

[00:33:28]
Bill Loveless:  You know, another topic that comes up very often these days is simply energy justice.  Some state governments are requiring energy developers to show tangible benefits to local communities or through energy justice programs and commitments, is this -- how does Orsted define these sorts of commitments and -- and what is the company doing there?

[00:33:49]
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, I think we are actually pretty focused on minorities and diversity and inclusion and friends in our project in New Jersey, our Ocean Wind Project, we’ve set aside a meaningful amount of money for minority businesses and woman-owned businesses and for us I think that’s just also part of the company we are, that we would like to let’s say favor these -- these groups, so that’s also part of building up I think a new industry and reach out to -- to the minority groups as well.  So, I think that is very much on our radar, we’re trying to find a balance where you also need to get the right skill in, but at the same time take social responsibility as you build out this new industry.

[00:34:34]
Bill Loveless:  Right.  I’m just curious I was out in Point Judith, Rhode Island yesterday and I could see the very faintly I might add the turbines of Block Island way, way, way on the distance.  Do you get out to that farm and take a look at it occasionally or -- 

[00:34:51
Thomas Brostrom:  Yeah, I’ve been out there and it’s a beautiful part of the world and I am also very biased, but actually think they’re pretty that the turbines and it’s just been tremendous feedback from the residents on Block Island and I think the communities around it, so it’s been a huge success story as far as I can tell.  So, that’s been a -- that’s been a good start for sure beautiful part of the world by the way.

[00:35:15]
Bill Loveless:  I would agree.  Well, certainly look forward to watching the development in this industry, it’s an exciting one I think because it’s new.  And it shows a lot of potential, it has its challenges, but certainly a lot of opportunities as well.  Thomas Brostrom, thanks for joining us on Columbia Energy Exchange.

[00:35:39]
Thomas Brostrom:  Well, thank you, it’s my pleasure.

[00:35:42]
Bill Loveless:  For more on Columbia Energy Exchange and the Center on Global Energy Policy go to our web page at energypolicy.columbia.edu or find us on social media @columbiauenergy, and if you can take a minute to give us a rating on your favorite podcast platform.  It helps us continue to grow, for Columbia Energy Exchange, I am Bill Loveless, we’ll be back again next week with another conversation.