Major initiative to promote offshore wind power

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The Government has announced plans to implement phase one of wind power production in the area of Sørlige Nordsjø II. The electricity produced from these wind farms will be transmitted via subsea cable to the Norwegian mainland. The goal is to establish a model for allocating sea bed based on auctions.

From left: Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Marte Mjøs Persen; Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre; Minister of Finance, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum and Minister of Trade, Jan Christian Vestre. Credit: Margrete Løbben Hanssen/Ministry of Petroleum and Energy

‘This is a solution that will increase the energy supply to southern Norway. The Government is working to ensure that Norway has access to abundant, renewable and affordable electricity, which will benefit Norwegian industry in the future and enhance value creation and employment across the country as a whole,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Phase one of Sørlige Nordsjø II has a capacity of 1 500 MW, and will produce roughly 7 TWh per year – enough electricity to power 460 000 households.

‘The Government will encourage greater investment in offshore wind power. Wind farms in the areas of Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord will boost energy production in Norway. This will provide more electricity to meet the rising demand emerging from electrification of the Norwegian society. It will promote technological development, generate cost reductions and spur innovation in Norwegian industry,’ said Minister of Petroleum and Energy Marte Mjøs Persen.

Phase two of Sørlige Nordsjø II has a capacity of another 1 500 MW. The Government will determine how to connect this additional electricity to the grid on the basis of a study on different grid alternatives for offshore wind power and their respective effects on the power system. The study will be carried out by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) in cooperation with Statnett.

The study will also look at the impacts on the power system of different grid solutions for offshore wind power connected to Norway and/or to other countries while not boosting export capacity from mainland Norway. The study was commissioned to NVE today and will be completed in the course of this autumn.

‘Our aim is to ensure low electricity prices for the people of Norway. The Government has taken effective steps to address the situation in the electricity market through measures such as support for electricity customers, reductions in the electrical power tax, increased housing assistance, increased social assistance, increased support for students and more support for household energy efficiency measures. So as we now work to expand offshore wind power, we will not be looking to establish new interconnectors that increase electricity export capacity from mainland Norway,’ said Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.

Auction to be the main model for allocating sea bed
The Government intends to develop the auction model as the primary means of allocating sea bed for renewable energy production. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will now start work on designing an auction model for realising phase one of Sørlige Nordsjø II

The Government will move forward with the plans for regulatory changes needed for the auction solution and sea bed allocation process that were circulated for review in summer 2021. The Government will submit a proposal to the Storting in the course of spring 2022 for amendments to the Offshore Energy Act and the appurtenant regulations.

Consultation on division of the area
Today the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is starting a consultation process on the proposed division of the areas to be allocated in Utsira and Sørlige Nordsjø II. The proposal takes into account both environmental interests and coexistence with other interests. The Ministry is seeking input from the wind power industry, other users of the areas and other interested parties on any adjustments to the areas and on which areas will be most suitable for development.

Identifying new areas for offshore wind power
In the long term, offshore wind power development will be dependent on access to sea bed. The Government is seeking to establish a predictable framework for the business sector by opening the door to more projects after Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has commissioned NVE to identify new areas for renewable offshore energy production based on input from an internal directorate-level committee and draw up a recommendation for an impact assessment programme. This work will take 9­–12 months. Impact assessments will then need to be carried out before any new areas can be opened.

‘Norway’s workforce, engineers and supplier industry are among the best in the world. With our expertise and access to clean power, we have the potential to become a green industrial giant. The industrial projects to be developed at Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord can help make this happen,’ said Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre.