White paper on energy – offshore wind updates

The Norwegian government just before Easter announced their white paper on energy policies in Norway, Meld. St. 11 (2021-2022), which is an update of the former government's white paper from last summer. An important part of the white paper concerns offshore wind development.

The white paper in its entirety can be found here (Norwegian). As concerns offshore wind, there were not an abundance of news compared to what was announced by the former government, and considering news already released earlier this winter of 2022. Some key take-aways are still of interest:

  • Auctions will apply as the main method for allocating exclusivity to areas going forward, except in special cases. The award of exclusivity for Utsira Nord is identified as a special case, and will be awarded based on qualitative criteria. These principles were introduced last summer, but have now been confirmed by the new government.
  • The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (the MPE) is in the process of preparing an auction model for Sørlige Nordsjø II, and aims at finalising this "during 2022". In parallel, the MPE is working on developing qualitative criteria for award of acreage at Utsira Nord, as well as a suitable support scheme for floating offshore wind. The MPE's proposals will be subject of a public consultation round before they apply. This implies a timeline where the awards of exclusivity are most likely not initiated before 2023.
  • Offshore wind developers may rely on their owners' competence and experience in order to fulfil prequalification criteria for participation in the awards. The white paper does not elaborate on whether any formalities, e.g. agreements between the owners and the developer, are required, and it must be expected that this will be addressed in the invitations to award of exclusivity.
  • Separate prequalification criteria will likely be set for each area.
  • The MPE will assess the consequences of hybrid grid connection for a Phase II of the Sørlige Nordsjø II development, and the government will thereafter make its decision on future hybrid grid connections.
  • The MPE will revert with details on how the offshore power grid shall be built, owned and financed. This is somewhat a development since the last government's white paper, where the standpoint was that offshore wind developers would have to build and finance power cables required for their wind farms.
  • The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate has been assigned the responsibility of assessing new areas for offshore wind development during the next 1.5 years, and the government aims at opening new areas based on updated knowledge thereafter.

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