Norway announced the first two lease areas that it will offer as it moves to begin the development of its offshore wind energy industry. It marks a critical first step being taken after an extended period of study on how best to execute the strategy which calls for up to 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2040.
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Two separate auctions are planned with one area in the North Sea near the border with Denmark and a second area along the west coast near the existing oil operations off Stavanger. Norway is using the British auction model for these first two projects with the Minister of Petroleum and Energy reporting that they will propose to parliament an upper limit on any state funding for the projects as they begin to move forward with the industry. Plans call for the awarding of the first projects by the end of 2023 with the government planning to announce new offshore wind areas in 2025.
“Leading Norway through the green shift is one of our major tasks as a government,” said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre at a press event in Oslo. “In order to further develop Norway, the answer to almost all questions is that we need more energy production. And that is why today marks a milestone.”
During the presentation, plans were outlined for the two proposed lease areas which collectively could provide at least 3 GW of wind energy. The Prime Minister noted that the plans for 30 GW are “almost on par with Norway’s total power production last year.” He also highlighted that Norway has five times as much area at sea as it has on land creating a large potential for the wind energy industry. The coastline also has “lots of wind.”
The first project is Sørlige Nordsjø II for which they will offer a single lease for the first phase consisting of 235 square miles. Located in the North Sea, it is suited to fixed bottom wind turbines with an expected 1.5 GW of power production. This first lease process will have a pre-qualification round where companies must document their technical competence and financial strength. Between six and eight companies will proceed into the auction with applications due by August 4, 2023.
The second project, Utsira Nord, is off the west coast and would require floating wind turbines. Currently, they are proposing three lease areas with a total of 386 square miles. Each will have a minimum of 500 MW, but it could be increased to as high as 750 MW based on studies currently underway. Applications are due by September first and Norway plans to use a qualitative criteria designed to facilitate innovation and technology development for floating offshore wind.
After the areas have been allocated, Norway will require the developers to conduct an impact assessment. It will be part of a process to mature the areas and finalize the designs for the country’s first offshore wind power production.
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