Norway Pondering New Regulation for Offshore Wind Development

On 4 June, Norwegian Parliament (Storting) will discuss a new proposal asking the government to draft detailed regulation for opening concession areas and granting concessions rights for offshore wind projects on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). 

The proposal – brought forward by Members of Parliament Per Espen Stoknes, Gisle Meininger Saudland, Lene Westgaard-Halle and Ketil Kjenseth – was introduced to the Parliament on 22 March 2018 and then forwarded to the Energy and Environment Committee, which unanimously supported the request on 24 May.

Along with detailing new concession rules, the government is also recommended to explore international experience and relevant models of early-stage support mechanisms that will stimulate an accelerated development of offshore wind projects on a commercial scale.

Norway is currently home to only one offshore wind turbine, the Hywind Demo 2.3MW floating wind project, implemented by Equinor (former Statoil) that ultimately built the world’s first floating wind farm in Scotland.

Hywind Demo turbine in Karmøy, Norway; Image: Equinor

According to the proposal, a significant obstacle for Norway having commercial-scale offshore wind farms is a lack of detailed rules for opening concession sites for offshore wind projects and licensing procedures.

The country’s current regulatory framework within the Ports Act of 2010 states that commercial wind turbine development can only take place on the NCS after opening and granting a license. The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) has conducted an impact assessment and identified potential areas for leasing, however, there were no concession areas opened and leased since then.

The new rules are suggested to be based on examining the experience from other countries before selecting a final model for the corresponding process in Norway.

The level of state support and risk mitigation should be weighed against potential for future economic development and exports of both offshore wind technology and generated offshore wind power, according to the aforementioned parliamentarians. They pointed to the Danish model supporting the development of both onshore and offshore wind power industries, which made the Danish wind turbine supplier Vestas one of the world’s largest companies in this market segment.

In December 2017, the Norwegian government announced plans to open one to two offshore areas for the development of floating wind power demonstration projects. At the time, the country’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Søviknes said that the government wanted to facilitate offshore wind power, especially demonstration projects.

Søviknes then also asked NVE to examine whether significant changes had occurred since it presented the impact assessment in 2013.

Offshore WIND Staff

Photo: Hywind Demo turbine in Karmøy, Norway; Image: Equinor