New regulations to facilitate offshore wind in Norway on public hearing

On 2 July 2019 the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for the first time presented a proposal to open certain areas offshore the coast of Norway for construction of wind farms.

In connection with the potential opening of these areas, the Ministry presented a proposal for further regulation of the licence application process and activities related to offshore renewable energy production, supplementing the existing provisions of the Norwegian Offshore Energy Act. In this newsletter we present an overview of the proposed regulations.

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Expansion of the jurisdiction of the Offshore Energy Act: As of today the Offshore Energy Act only applies to the ocean area outside the baselines (Norw. "grunnlinjene"). In the proposal, the ocean area inside the baselines are suggested to be taken in use and implies that parts of the Act shall apply inside the baselines. Ocean areas inside the baseline will also need to be formally opened for license applications as these areas are owned and controlled by the Norwegian state, before it is possible to apply for development of offshore power projects.

 Regulation of the procedures for the licence application process: The proposal stipulates new and detailed procedures regarding the licence application process for offshore power installations, which to a large extent are similar to the application procedures for onshore power installations. The proposal prescribes the following procedure:

1. The project developer shall submit a notice to the Ministry on the planned project, containing a draft program for consequence analysis. The program shall contain a description of the project, the methods to be used in the analysis and the project developer's business. The draft program will be presented for public consultations. If the program is approved by the Ministry no other project developer may submit notice about a project in the same geographical area.

2. The project developer shall apply for a licence within two years after the program for consequence analysis was approved. A license may be granted with a validity of up to 30 years and may be prolonged upon application from the license holder.

3. After obtaining a license, the project developer shall apply for approval of a detail plan to The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) within two years after the licence was granted. The detail plan shall contain detailed information about the project, planned construction start and completion, technical information, financing, and any changes to the documentation submitted in connection with the license application.

4. The wind farm must be constructed and put into commercial operation within three years after the detail plan was approved by NVE.

 Processing fee: Pursuant to the proposal, the NVE will charge a processing fee of NOK 100 000 for processing the notice described in step 1 above.

• Simplified procedures for pilot projects: According to the law proposal, the procedure described above shall not fully apply to pilot projects. It will not be necessary to send a notice with a draft program for consequence analysis as described in step 1 before applying for a pilot project permit, and it is furthermore possible to apply for a pilot permit outside areas formally opened for offshore energy production.

 Transmission cables directly out of the country: The proposed regulation will not affect the rules under the Energy Act regarding cables for transfer of power directly out of the country.

The public hearing ends on 1 November 2019, after which the Ministry will present a final proposal to royal decree about opening areas for licence applications and a final proposal for regulations.

Wikborg Rein follows both the onshore and offshore wind industry closely. We invite all interested parties to contact us to discuss the developments in the wind power industry.