Putting Energy to work

Award of acreage and opening of new areas for offshore wind in Norway

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has today put out several proposals for public consultation regarding development of offshore wind in Norway. The consultation is being held in conjunction with the Report to the Storting (White Paper) ‘Putting Energy to Work’, which explores long term value creation from Norway’s energy resources.

The government will start a process for awarding interested operators allocated areas as soon as possible, thus allowing them to apply for concessions for offshore wind projects within the opened areas Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II. Before allocating areas and process applications, further details regarding the regulations must be clarified.

The ministry therefore proposes amendments to both the Offshore Energy Act and the Offshore Energy Act Regulations, as well as guidelines for the offshore wind concession process.

The documents subject to consultation can be read here. The deadline for submissions is August 20, 2021.

— We are now proposing a framework for the development of profitable offshore wind projects that will help to develop a competitive industry for Norway, and ensure predictability for the industry. I am hoping for extensive and constructive feedback as part of the consultation process,’ says Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tina Bru.

Offshore wind is a central theme in the white paper published Friday. One of the goals presented is that Norwegian industry can participate in the emerging offshore wind market. At the same time, the government confirms the goal of facilitating development of socio-economic profitable offshore wind in Norway.

Grid costs will be covered by developers. The development of offshore wind will not result in additional costs to onshore customers.

There is a big difference in the levels of maturity between bottom-fixed offshore wind technologies and floating wind. The government believes that support for technology development is the most appropriate tool for developing floating offshore wind solutions in Norway, as demonstration projects may help to reduce costs. Enova is the vehicle for support to the development of floating offshore wind technology. The government will consider increasing its grants to Enova as part of the regular state budget process when the time comes to award concessions to prospective developers at Utsira Nord. The considerations of financial support will depend on the technological development and the maturity of the projects.

The government is proposing to award at least three areas for up to 500 MW each at Utsira Nord. The process will start by the end of this year, unless there are any major changes as a result of responses to the consultation. The award of acreage at Utsira Nord will be based on qualitative criteria.

The industry has advocated for hybrid solutions in Sørlige Nordsjø II enabling power to be brought onshore both in Norway and abroad, also enabling import and export of electricity. The impact of hybrid projects and legal issues must be examined before any such projects may take place.

The government presupposes that bottom-fixed offshore wind be built without state aid at Sørlige Nordsjø II. As soon as the assessment of hybrid projects has been completed, the government will announce an auction for areas in Sørlige Nordsjø II.

In those cases where there are several users of the offshore grid, there will be a need to ensure neutral and effective coordination. The government will therefore appoint Statnett as system coordinator at sea.

Offshore wind power is an industry for the future, and we are currently at an early phase. In order to facilitate better interaction between the authorities, researchers and industry, as well as other stakeholders, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will establish a collaborative forum for offshore wind. Minister Bru will invite to the first meeting in the forum in September.

It may become necessary to open further areas for offshore renewable energy, and the government is now commencing work to develop its scientific basis in this regard.