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Consultation of project areas for offshore wind

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In a press conference held on 9 February 2022, the Norwegian Government issued updates related to the realization of offshore wind on the Norwegian continental shelf.

In the press release, the Government presents the following news:

  • Auctions will be the main model for awarding areas for offshore wind. The Government announces that it will proceed with the regulatory changes for the auctioning process and the area allocation process that were on public consultation last summer. Furthermore, the Government announces that it will submit a draft resolution to the parliament with amendments to the Offshore Energy Act and enact changes in the Offshore Energy Regulation during the course of the spring 2022. From the press conference (which can be found here) it was apparent that the Governement's preparation of an auctioning model is still pending the Government's assessment, and that no final decision has been made regarding auctioning model for Utsira Nord (although the model will be based on qualitative criterias).
  • The announcement of areas in Sørlige Nordsjø II will be based on an assumption that the power shall be transported to onshore Norway via a production radial, and that connection to other countries (via a hybrid grid) will not be considered in this first round. In the press conference, the Government indicated that the Government is prepared to contribute with the costs related with the construction of such production radial. Furthermore, NVE has been asked to assess the consequences of facilitation for hybrid grid solutions in the next phase of Sørlige Nordsjø II.
  • Public consultation of project areas (i.e. project areas within the Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord, respectively). The consultation note can be found here. For Utsira Nord, the Government seeks input on two alternatives. Alternative 1 involves dividing Utsira Nord into four project areas; two areas of up to 500 MW and two areas of up to 250 MW. In alternative 2, the Government proposes to divide Utsira Nord into three project areas; two areas of up to 600 MW and one area of up to 300 MW. For Sørlige Nordsjø II, the Government proposes to divide the area into three project areas of up to 1500 MW each, and the government requests input on which two of the three areas the Government should later announce in upcoming competitions. The consultation deadline is 29 April 2022.
  • The Government instructs the Norwegian Water Recourses and Energy Directorate (NVE) to identify new areas for renewable offshore energy production based on input from a group of directorates, and to prepare proposals for an impact assessment program. This work will last 9-12 months. Thereafter, the impact assessment must be carried out before new areas can be opened. Besides Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord (which have already been opened), this means that no new areas will be opened for a licensing process to commence for the next 12 months.

Link to the Minister of Petroleum and Energy's contribution to the press conference.

- Thommessen are following the development closely. We note that the Government's press conference did not provide the necessary clarifications for the stakeholders. However, we note that the Government at the press conference mentioned the possibility for the Government to commence a process for the collection of information from the relevant areas, and we also note that the Government underlined the importance of running various processes in parallel and not in sequence. This is key to a fast realization of projects and in line with our input to the authorities, says our partner and head of our department for renewable energy, Bendik Christoffersen.

See our webinar from November 2021 where we emphasize the importance of parallel processes for a rapid realization of offshore wind.

Contact our lawyers for a chat about offshore wind in Norway.

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