Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru says the Norwegian Government is to initiate a process to identify new areas for offshore wind development in addition to the two areas, Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II, that it has already designated
The Minister also revealed plans for the formation of an offshore grid operator for Norway and that the government is addressing how best to regulate the development of the offshore grid.
In an address at the Floating Wind 2021 conference in Haugesund in Norway on 8 June 2021, Minister Bru said the starting point for shaping the Norwegian government’s policy on offshore wind is that it is an industrial opportunity for the country.
“We need to diversify our industrial base and we need to create new jobs,” she told delegates. “We want to build on the technology and competence in our oil and gas companies, and our fantastic service and supply industry.
“Last year we opened two areas for offshore wind. But we have listened to the industry, and we know making more acreage available is important,” she told the conference.
“The government will initiate a process of identifying new areas for offshore wind and conduct an impact assessment of these areas. This will facilitate future activity and provide predictability for the industry.”
The Minister said the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate will lead this process and work closely with other relevant agencies. The process is expected to take approximately two years.
“To ensure neutral and efficient co-ordination for users of the offshore grid and provide clarity for the developers of offshore wind, there is a need for an offshore system operator,” Minister Bru said.
“Many other European countries are working on or have already themselves identified how this will be regulated. We need to do the same. So the government will start working on regulation for the offshore system operation.”
Minister Bru said the government plans to designate Statnett as the system operator for cables and infrastructure not covered in the country’s Petroleum Act and would use the Offshore Energy Act to do so.
“We will also assess and possibly propose necessary legislative changes and more detailed rules for efficient access to, and use of the offshore grid,” Minister Bru said.
“We need to facilitate a more interconnected offshore grid, with the possibility of new connections and future expansion.”
Turning to the Sørlige Nordsjø II offshore wind zone in the North Sea, Minister Bru said it “represents an opportunity to develop profitable bottom-fixed wind projects in Norwegian waters.” She said industry has shown great interest in the area, and it is expected that projects in the zone will be developed on a commercial basis, without state aid.
The government is planning to award two or three project areas in Sørlige Nordsjø II for development. The Minister said many developers are looking into hybrid projects, combining offshore wind and interconnectors. She noted that hybrid projects will have effects on the Norwegian power system, on the electricity flows and prices.
“Development and regulation of hybrid projects is being discussed in the EU and in the North Sea Energy Cooperation. This is new ground for many countries looking to develop offshore wind,” the Minister said.
“The government will assess the effects and legal aspects of hybrid projects to clarify these in advance of an award of areas in Sørlige Nordsjø II. We aim to announce the auction for Sørlige Nordsjø II in Q1 2022.”
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