The Norwegian government plans to identify new areas for offshore wind development, energy minister Tina Bru told the Floating Wind 2021 conference in Haugesund in the south-west of the country.
Norway’s Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) will lead the process. It is expected to take two years to identify areas and carry out impact assessments for them.
Bru also announced differing plans for selecting offshore wind projects to be built in two areas – Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord — opened for development of approximately 4.5GW one year ago.
The Norwegian government expects bottom-fixed projects to be built in the Sørlige Nordsjø II area without state aid, while floating offshore wind projects built in Utsira Nord will require help from the state due to their higher costs, Bru explained.
She added that the government aims to announce an auction process for Sørlige Nordsjø II – a 2,591km2 site south-west of Kristiansand in the south of the country– in the first quarter of 2022.
It will first need to assess legal and other effects of different offshore project sharing transmission infrastructure as many developers are looking at combining offshore wind farms and interconnectors, Bru explained. She added that the government would then hold a qualification phase before auctioning sites, and expects to award two or three projects.
Two groups — one comprising Equinor, RWE Renewables and Hydro REIN, the other Statkraft, Aker Offshore Wind and Aker Horizons, have announced plans to develop projects in Sørlige Nordsjø II.
Meanwhile, Utsira Nord — a 1,010km2 site west of Haugesund — will require a different process as the area’s deep waters will necessitate the use of floating platforms, the energy minister said.
The government will assess the timing and level of support needed for projects that have “matured significantly”, Bru added. It will aim to start the process by the end of this year and ultimately award at least three sites, each capable of supporting 500MW.
Equinor and Vårgrønn – a joint venture of energy companies Eni and HitecVision – and a joint venture formed by Norwegian renewables developer Magnora and UK engineering firm TechnipFMC have both announced their intention to bid for projects in Utsira Nord.