Ambitious offshore wind initiative

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Today, the Government is presenting a major initiative to promote offshore wind power. The aim is to use offshore wind power to generate new electricity on a par with the total amount of electricity currently produced in Norway. The initiative will enhance access to electricity for individuals and businesses across the entire country.

‘From day one of this Government, we have been working to develop Norway as an offshore wind nation. We are in a good position to succeed: we have large sea areas, a workforce with world-class technology expertise, and well-established cooperation between the government administration and the business sector,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Four months after the current Government took over, it established a framework for opening the areas of Utsira North and Southern North Sea II for offshore renewable energy production. At the same time, efforts were initiated to identify potential new areas along the coast that are suitable for offshore wind power development.

‘Today, we are launching a major offshore wind initiative. Our target is to open up areas for offshore wind power production that will generate 30 000 MW of power in Norway by 2040. This is nearly equivalent to the amount of electricity we currently produce in Norway. Over the next 20 years, we will go from having two offshore wind turbines in operation to having around 1 500 turbines,’ said Mr Støre.

The Prime Minister refers to the initiative as a milestone for Norwegian industry and the Norwegian energy sector.

‘This represents a boost for green industry in Norway and can provide a large amount of renewable energy in the future. This development is about providing affordable electricity to individuals and businesses. If we are to succeed, we need to invest now – and we need to invest on a large scale,’ he said.

When choosing a grid solution that involves connecting offshore electricity to the Norwegian power system, the technical designs must safeguard national interests, including security of supply and access to affordable electricity for households, businesses and industry.

‘The objective is to make a large amount of affordable electricity available to people and businesses, to make it possible to create jobs across the entire country. It will be important to choose grid solutions that provide more power to Norway and also serve as effective grid solutions for the offshore wind power initiative. Investment in offshore wind is also the key to the electrification of the Norwegian continental shelf. We will explore how to employ a future resource rent tax on offshore wind to ensure that a larger proportion of private-sector profits are used to the benefit of society as a whole,’ said Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.

The Government plans to carry out the next licensing round for new offshore wind areas in 2025. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will consider how to streamline the licensing process by assessing applications and approving the detailed plans at the same time.

‘We will act quickly but prudently. It is our aim to increase the electricity we produce by an amount equivalent to the entire Norwegian power system today. We need to do this step by step in order to learn along the way. We will uphold Norway’s greatest advantage when it comes to power: a secure and efficient power supply that is developed in a way that safeguards other important interests, such as fisheries,’ said Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland.

The Government plans to open an area totalling five to six times the size of Southern North Sea II, or roughly 1 % of Norway’s sea areas. This will be done in stages.

The 30 000 MW from offshore wind planned to be generated is too large for the Norwegian electricity grid to accommodate. A significant portion of this power will therefore need to go to other countries. An increase in offshore wind power production may also help to meet the electricity needs of the petroleum sector. The Government will therefore assess the role to be played by the petroleum industry to ensure that the offshore wind initiative also facilitates  the electrification of the Norwegian continental shelf.

‘Offshore wind power is a priority in the Government’s efforts to promote greener industry to ensure that Norway continues to be an industrial energy giant even in a future where renewables are the norm. This initiative achieves three objectives at once: it will lead to more than enough clean, affordable electricity for existing and new industry across the country; it will create enormous opportunities for exporting Norwegian technology; and it will be a major contribution to the green transition in Europe. The Norwegian industrialist Sam Eyde, founder of Norsk Hydro, would have been thrilled by this initiative,’ said Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre. 

In its political platform, the Government stated that one of its goals was to pave the way for a major offshore wind initiative based on an ambitious national strategy for offshore wind power which includes a focus on the Norwegian supplier industry, an effective legal framework, and development of grid infrastructure on the Norwegian continental shelf. The large-scale offshore wind initiative announced today follows up this goal.