Wind power in Norway post 2020

Tale ved Norweas finansseminar på Lysebu torsdag 1. februar 2018.

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Good afternoon! I appreciate the invitation and I am glad to have the opportunity to say how I see the prospects for wind power in Norway today and in the years ahead.

This is an exciting time as wind power is really starting to make its mark across the country. Actually, I could literally see this from the office window in my former job as Mayor of Os municipality: from there, I had a clear view of the Midtfjellet wind farm in the neighbouring municipality of Fitjar.

Many communities around Norway have had the same experience. They see that the development of wind power creates values and jobs locally. In the same way as the exploitation of energy resources has done for more than a century.

The energy sector is of utmost importance to our country. In fact, the renewable energy sector itself has the highest value creation of any industry in mainland Norway.

A lot of new power is being developed in Norway at the moment. In fact, we have not seen this level of activity for 25 years. The rate of construction is now significantly higher than the historic average seen since the adoption of the Norwegian Energy Act in 1991.

It is encouraging to see that investment decisions are taken, and wind farms are being built. A number of wind farms came on grid last year, and we now have 3,6 Terawatt hours of wind power developed.

Some 5,5 Terawatt hours are being built. By 2020, it is likely that we will have more than 10 Terawatt hours of wind power developed in this country.

I am a politician, and as such, it is tempting to say that this is happening because of the Government's energy policy. While I am proud of our policy, I have to be honest: Norway is blessed with incredible energy resources. This provides an excellent starting point for value creation and a safe, clean and reliable energy system.

Hydropower is and will remain the backbone of our energy system. Now we are seeing more and more wind power coming into the system. Wind and hydropower is a perfect combination.

The Government's aim is to facilitate this positive development.

Last year, we agreed with Sweden on the future of our joint certificate scheme beyond 2020. Sweden will extend the certificate scheme with a new goal of 18 Terawatt hours of new renewable electricity by 2030.

While the Swedish quotas are increased, Norway will not increase its financial commitment. However, projects in Norway with start-up before the end of 2021, will be eligible for certificates.

I am very pleased with our agreement, which provides predictability and stability for consumers and investors. We look forward to a close cooperation with our Swedish friends also in the time to come.

The government has also implemented more harmonised depreciation rules for wind power - to give Norwegian and Swedish projects more equal opportunities within the electricity certificate system.

An adequate infrastructure is a precondition for the further development of our energy system. The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate has estimated the planned investments on all grid levels towards 2025. 140 billion NOK, or nearly 15 billion euro will be invested, according to the estimate.

Finally, the awarding of licenses for development is a key instrument in the policy toolbox. The authorities have awarded a high number of licenses to developers in recent years.

In the end, it is up to the companies and investors to make the decisions on whether to develop a project or not.

Wind power is becoming an increasingly important part of the global energy mix, not least because of rapidly falling costs. It is fascinating to see the speed of the technology development, making wind power more competitive in ever more markets.

The fact that we have a high level of development in Norway today, despite moderate electricity prices, is in itself an indication that the technology has improved. Investors now see profitability where a few years ago they did not.

In my view, this gives reason to believe in a profitable future for wind power in Norway. Even when there are no longer any certificates to be awarded.

This is what the Government's energy policy is all about: resources should be developed based on the long-term signals of the market. Over time, we cannot subsidise our way to a cleaner energy future.

I believe that Norwegian wind power resources will continue to be attractive for investors also beyond 2020. However, it is up to you, as developers and investors, to make the commercial decisions. The authorities will continue to put appropriate framework conditions in place.

One important element of this is the work currently going to establish a national framework for wind power. The very fact that this work has been initiated shows that we see a potential for further development. Not everywhere, but in the most suitable areas.

If we believed that there was no future for Norwegian wind power after 2020, there would be no reason to carry out this whole process.

Per Sanderud, who is the Director General of our regulator NVE will give you an update on their work with the national framework tomorrow. Therefore, I will not go into detail here.

The national framework will provide a signal of where conditions for wind power development are most favourable. It will provide a national knowledge base and mapping, and be valuable to both developers and authorities. However, I should underline that formally, there will be no distinction between projects inside and outside of the framework.

I mentioned the rapid technological development earlier. Offshore wind is certainly one area where things are moving quickly.

In October, I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm. It was truly impressive to see the massive installations first-hand.

I am pleased to see that Norwegian suppliers have played a significant part in making Hywind Scotland a reality. I am convinced that there is a great potential for further growth for our highly skilled and competitive service and supply industry in this market.

The Government wants to aid this development. Therefore, we will as soon as possible open one to two areas for offshore wind.                                          

Furthermore, our state enterprise Enova is ready to receive applications for technology development and demonstration projects.

The development of wind power in Norway is a further step in the process of utilising the natural resources to develop Norwegian society. Since we first started to exploit our hydropower resources some 130 years ago, it has powered our industry and society as a whole.

The wind power now coming on grid contributes to our surplus of renewable power. This gives Norway a unique opportunity to utilise the power in new ways and to create new profitable jobs.

The growing data centre industry is one area where Norway has every opportunity to compete. The right conditions are in place: Norway has a lot of space, a naturally cool climate and, as I mentioned, a surplus of clean power at a low cost.

In the recently published government platform of the new and extended Norwegian government, we confirmed that we want to make Norway an even more attractive location for this industry.

In order to do so, the Government will contribute to the improvement of fibre cable capacity to our neighbouring countries. We have also passed a reduction of the property tax for businesses.

Recently, we have also seen how wind power contributes to powering the Norwegian power intensive industry.

A few examples are worth mentioning: Alcoa has agreed to buy the power from the Kvitfjell and Raudfjell wind farm in Tromsø to power its aluminium plant in Mosjøen.

Norsk Hydro will buy power from the wind farms at Fosen, which will in part power the company's technology pilot at its Karmøy plant. Norsk Hydro has also agreed to buy power from a wind power development in Sweden – no less than 1,65 Terawatt hours will be delivered to Hydro's aluminium production.

And in South Western Norway, Google has agreed to buy the rights to the entire production from Tellenes wind farm.

These cases provide further proof that profitable wind power can contribute to the development of the Norwegian economy and society.

The wind power industry is now truly starting to gain a foothold in Norway. Today's host Norwea has really been pushing this development forward, and deserves credit for that.

As I look out at this assembly, it is clear that Norway is an attractive place to do business for international investors. This is without a doubt a good thing.

In the world of energy, no country is an island.

Norway is a part of the European energy market, and when international investors see Norway as an interesting place to do business, it tells me that we have the right framework conditions to go with our outstanding natural resources.

I look forward to seeing Norwegian wind power developing further in the time ahead.