Offshore wind power: Norwegian public consultation on areas and regulation

Source: press release, 2 July 2019

Left, Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II – right, Sandskallen-Sørøya Nord
Left, Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II – right, Sandskallen-Sørøya Nord (illustrations: MPE/NVE)

Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has proposed to open the areas Utsira Nord and Sandskallen-Sørøya Nord for offshore renewables. The ministry also asks for input on whether the area Sørlige Nordsjø II should be opened.

“Offshore wind power offers great opportunites for Norwegian businesses. In the immediate future the market will be in other countries, but if the costs for offshore wind power continues to fall it could also become competitive in Norway. It is now time to prepare for the future development by allocating space for offshore renewables,” says Kjell-Børge Freiberg, Minister for Petroleum and Energy.

According to the Ocean Energy Act, areas must be opened by the government before license applications can be submitted.

In the public consultation, three areas are presented:

Utsira Nord is located to the west of Haugesund, and is suited for floating wind power, which is the most interesting technology from a Norwegian perspective. The area is also large, close to shore and provides oppurtunities for demonstration projects and larger projects. Utsira Nord’s size provides room for adapting to other interests in the licensing process. The ministry proposes to open this area to facilitate the development of such technology.

Sandskallen-Sørøya Nord lies northwest of Hammerfest in Norway’s high north and has both shallow and deeper waters. Both floating and bottom-fixed technology is possible here. Like Utsira Nord, this area is fairly close to shore, making it more attractive for smaller developments, such as demonstration projects.

“I think it is important to open one area for bottom-fixed wind power near the coast. This provides opportunity for the ocean industries in the north,” says Freiberg.

Sørlige Nordsjø II borders the Danish sector in the North Sea, and is relevant for direct export of electricity. The area has depths which makes it possible to develop bottom-fixed wind power here, but floating solutions could also be relevant.

Sørlige Nordsjø II is situated in an area with petroleum activities.

“I want to ensure good coordination between the offshore petroleum and renewables industries. Therefore, I am asking for feedback on whether Sørlige Nordsjø II should be opened and how we best can facilitate the co-existence of these two industries,” Freiberg says.

The ministry also proposes a regulation which supplements the ocean energy act and clarifies the licensing process. The public consultation ends on 1 November.

The public consultation documents are available in Norwegian only, but an English translation of the ministry’s proposal is forthcoming.