After being an integral part of Scatec's journey from start-up to a significant global player in renewable energy, Snorre Valdimarsson joined Thommessen's partnership in February 2023. He believes that regulatory barriers need to be removed and concession processing streamlined to exploit the potential for solar energy in Norway.
Snorre's interest in the energy industry was sparked as a newly graduated lawyer in the early 2000s. From 2006 to 2009, he assisted, among others, REC, which at the time was the leading manufacturer of solar panels globally, and the company's founders in several of their projects.
- This was my first introduction to solar power, and I found it an extremely interesting market. I experienced how important the utilization of a renewable energy source like solar could be for the future, says Snorre.
With a growing interest in the field, it was only natural to accept when in 2009 he was asked to assume the role of legal director in the newly established solar energy company, Scatec.
From start-up to global player
With the legal responsibility at Scatec, Snorre became one of the key figures in the company's development. Initially, the business plan was to be a contractor for solar parks. Over time, the scope expanded to a business model where Scatec could independently develop, finance, construct, and own solar power plants.
- I had legal responsibility for acquisitions of renewable platforms, project development and financing, EPC and procurement, taxes and operations, and then divesting to various fund structures, Scatec's IPO, several joint venture structures with leading players, establishing and operationalizing a compliance function covering the most demanding markets in the world, and all external and equity financing at the group level, Snorre recounts.
He has also been involved in purchasing, structuring, development, financing, and contracting across the entire supply chain for over a hundred power plants globally, involving solar, wind, water, and battery.
- First and foremost, I have experienced that a talented and dedicated team can actually build a global company almost out of sheer will. Additionally, I've realized the importance of assembling the right team of people, ensuring they complement each other's weaknesses and capitalize on each other's strengths, delegating with a clear mandate and expectation, and fostering the values and culture of a company, says Snorre.
This is something he looks forward to continuing – now as a partner in Thommessen's renewable team.
How to succeed with solar power in Norway?
Solar power initially accounts for a small portion of Norway's total power production. Snorre is clear that solar energy should be pursued more aggressively in the future.
- Solar power is a clean and inexhaustible energy source, and even though we have dark winters, we also have brighter summers than around the equator. The cold climate actually contributes to increased efficiency of solar panels. However, historically low electricity prices and peak electricity consumption during winter are factors limiting the spread of solar power in Norway, explains Snorre.
However, solar power could constitute a significant part of the energy mix for new capacity to be installed in Norway, he believes.
- To reach the Energy Commission's goal of 40TWh in new power production by 2023, it is estimated that large amounts of solar power need to be developed, requiring investments in the order of 100 billion kroner, says Snorre.
The technical potential for solar energy alone in Norway is 30TWh. Coupled with the vast land area, Norway is poised to significantly boost its capacity.
- To leverage this, regulatory barriers must be removed, and concession processing streamlined, believes Snorre.
Snorre points out limitations in solar power sharing between users and buildings. Moreover, solar power is capital-intensive, making the right financing crucial.
- Solar power poses some challenges as it only produces energy when the sun shines. Thus, solar power needs to be considered in conjunction with existing power sources. Hybrid plants will become more common, and the need for energy storage and digitalization are vital factors for success, he explains.
In April, the entire TeamThommessen got to know Snorre better when he gave an internal lecture on Scatec's journey from start-up to global player.
The leading law firm in Norway
Thommessen has been the leading law firm in renewable energy since hydropower came to Norway, and the team has assisted in major projects over several decades - from development to production.
- Professionally, I consider Thommessen to be the clear leading law firm in Norway in the renewable energy sector. That was a main reason why I wanted to work here. Moreover, I could immediately identify with Thommessen's values – values that I believe benefit our clients and also our employees, says Snorre.
He reports that his first few months at Thommessen have exceeded all expectations.
- I have been given responsibility for some projects related to offshore wind, where I can utilize the expertise I have gained at Scatec. I've also had the opportunity to work broadly with renewable energy in Norway, including solar power, hydrogen, and ammonia, as well as companies closely aligned with the green shift, Snorre shares.
The fact that Thommessen has assisted developers throughout the industry's long history holds significant value when dealing with new energy sources, Snorre believes.
- I firmly believe that is absolutely crucial. Developing a renewable energy project often takes at least as long as building it. Knowing how to assemble all the elements to quickly proceed to construction is essential for a successful project. This ensures predictable timelines and cost levels, says Snorre