The Norwegian Government has published its much anticipated White Paper on energy, Putting Energy to Work, and has put offshore wind at the heart of it
Published on 11 June 2021, the White Paper explores long-term value creation from Norwegian energy resources and sets out how Norway can use them to create economic growth and jobs.
The White Paper states that Norway’s position as an energy nation will be further developed through new initiatives involving offshore wind, hydrogen, strengthening the country’s power grid and reducing emissions in the offshore oil and gas sector. It also paves the way for a smaller offshore oil and gas industry, one in which emissions are significantly reduced, and a future in which fossil-fuel based energy is phased out.
Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru said, “The green transition is happening right now. We will facilitate more production of renewable energy and bolster our power grid.”
The White Paper describes offshore wind as ‘an industrial opportunity for Norway’ and one that will be an important next chapter in the story of the country’s history as an energy nation.
“We are taking significant steps to facilitate offshore wind power – floating installations, as well as bottom-fixed ones,” said the Minister.
The White Paper also presents a roadmap for hydrogen, and sets out ambitions for maritime hubs, industrial production, and multiple pilot projects to develop new and more cost-efficient solutions and technologies. Together with the government’s comprehensive climate action plan, the White Paper demonstrates that it is possible to cut emissions while maintaining economic activity, said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
The document states that the oil and gas industry "faces major challenges as a result of maturing fields on the Norwegian continental shelf and increasing demands for lower emissions." The petroleum sector will remain a significant part of the Norwegian economy in the years to come, but not on the same scale as today. “We must prepare for the fact that the petroleum industry will not remain the same driving force in our economy as previously,” said the Minister.
The White Paper outlines a number of goals for Norwegian energy resources. The first is economic growth that creates jobs in Norway. The second is using electrification to make Norway a greener country. The third is the establishment of new, profitable industries – such as offshore wind and hydrogen – as well as carbon capture and storage and energy storage.
Alongside publication of the White paper, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has, as expected, published proposals for public consultation regarding the development of offshore wind in Norway.
The consultation initiates a process for awarding areas for offshore windfarms to operators as soon as possible, allowing them to apply for concessions for offshore wind projects in the Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II areas.
However, before allocating areas, the government said regulations for offshore wind development must be clarified. With this in mind, the Ministry has therefore proposed amendments to the Offshore Energy Act and the Offshore Energy Act Regulations, as well as guidelines for the offshore wind concession process. The documents subject to consultation (currently only in Norwegian) can be read here. The deadline for submissions is 20 August 2021.
“We are proposing a framework for the development of profitable offshore wind projects that will help to develop a competitive industry for Norway and ensure predictability for the industry. I am hoping for extensive and constructive feedback as part of the consultation process,” said Minister Bru.
“One of our goals is that Norwegian industry can participate in the global offshore wind market. At the same time, the government confirms the goal of facilitating development of profitable offshore wind in Norway.”
The document also confirmed that grid costs will be covered by developers to ensure that the development of offshore wind will not result in additional costs to consumers, and described support for the development of floating wind.
“There is a big difference in the levels of maturity between bottom-fixed offshore wind and floating wind,” said the Ministry. “The government believes that support for technology development is the most appropriate tool for developing floating offshore wind solutions in Norway, as demonstration projects may help to reduce costs.
“Enova is the vehicle for support to the development of floating wind technology. The government will consider increasing its grants to Enova as part of the regular state budget process when the time comes to award concessions to prospective developers at Utsira Nord. Consideration of financial support will depend on the technological development and the maturity of the projects.”
The government is proposing to award at least three areas of up to 500 MW each at Utsira Nord. The process will start by the end of this year unless there are any major changes as a result of responses to the consultation.
As highlighted previously by OWJ, industry has advocated for hybrid solutions at Sørlige Nordsjø II, enabling power to be brought ashore in Norway and other countries, and enabling import and export of electricity. However, the government said the impact of hybrid projects and legal issues must be examined before any such projects may take place.
The government said it expects that bottom-fixed offshore wind projects at Sørlige Nordsjø II will be built without subsidies. As soon as the assessment of hybrid projects has been completed, the government will announce an auction for areas in Sørlige Nordsjø II.
“Offshore wind power is an industry for the future, and we are currently at an early phase,” Minister Bru concluded. “To facilitate better interaction between the authorities, researchers and industry, as well as other stakeholders, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will establish a collaborative forum for offshore wind.”
The government also confirmed that it may open further areas for offshore renewable energy, and it is commencing work to develop a scientific basis for doing so.