Norway aims for offshore wind power by 2030

Norway's government on Wednesday presented a plan to build a large-scale offshore wind power farm in the North Sea, saying it hopes to have the first turbines up by 2030.

An offshore windfarm in the UK.
Norway hopes to have its first North Sea wind turbines operational by 2030. Pictured is a windfarm in UK waters. Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash

The Scandinavian country — the largest oil producer in Western Europe — will launch a public tender aimed at building the first phase of a wind project in the southern waters of the North Sea.

“This is about ensuring access to clean and cheap energy. This is a reminder of the situation we find ourselves in,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told a press conference, referring to high electricity prices in Europe.

With a capacity of 1,500 megawatts (MW), the first phase of the field, called Sorlige Nordsjo II, will be reserved for domestic consumption, with the government explicitly excluding the laying of cables for export — which the sector deemed as a necessary condition for profitability.

The field should cover the electricity consumption of 460,000 homes, and Støre said the first fixed-bottom turbines should be erected “in the second half” of the decade.

READ ALSO: Norway’s Sami population say wind farms threaten their livelihoods and ancestral traditions

Later, a second phase of the project, with a similar capacity, could be connected to the European continent, but this will depend on a study by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).

The organisation representing the oil companies — often the same who are developers of wind power projects — Norwegian Oil and Gas, welcomed the “necessary clarifications” made by the government, but also criticised it for scaling down its ambitions by splitting the wind farm into two phases.

The government defended itself by saying that the split would speed up the start of the project.

Norwegian Oil and Gas also said it was “surprised” that it had not been heard on the need for a cable to the European continent, which it said would have enabled the project to go ahead without public subsidies.

 Another offshore farm with floating turbines is also planned in Norwegian waters in the North Sea, but no timetable has been provided for this project, called Utsira Nord and also intended for domestic consumption.

These wind projects had already been approved by the previous centre-right government but their implementation has been delayed.

A debate is ongoing in Norway on the advisability of connecting new wind power projects to the European grid, a choice which, according to critics, would have the effect of increasing prices for Norwegian consumers.

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ENERGY: What Norway’s new grid rent model means for you

A new model for grid rent, the fee you pay the network for powering your home, will be adopted in Norway later this year. So, what will it mean for you, and will it help slash your energy bills? 

ENERGY: What Norway's new grid rent model means for you

Following a six month postponement, a new gird rent system will be adopted nationwide in July, the Norwegian government has announced

Grid rent is the charge consumers pay for receiving electricity into their homes. Under the current model, grid rent is typically anywhere between 20 to 50 øre per kilowatt-hour. Those in rural areas usually pay more, while those in cities pay less.

The new model will have a lower fixed proportion of the fee with a higher part of the charge linked to total consumption, meaning homes that use more power will pay higher grid rent, while those that consume less will have lower bills. 

The new model has been welcomed by the Norwegian Housing Association (NBBL). 

“Now we get a fairer grid rent, where those who load the power grid the most so that the need for development increases, pay somewhat more in fixed terms than those who use little electricity at the same time,” Bård Folke Fredriksen, CEO of the NBBL, told newswire NTB. 

“No one wants to pay for the neighbour to charge two electric cars simultaneously during the day, when it is entirely possible to charge slowly at night when there is good capacity in the power grid,” he added. 

Initially, the model was meant to be adopted in the new year, but a majority in parliament opted to delay the scheme’s introduction. 

“The goal of the new grid rental model is to facilitate the best possible utilisation of the transmission network and a more equitable distribution of costs between customers,” Minister of Petroleum Terje Aasland said in a government statement.

The government has said that, over time, the scheme would lead to lower grid rent for customers. 

“Power-based grid rental will provide incentives for efficient grid utilisation, which will result in lower grid costs for electricity customers, less encroachment on nature and fewer conflicts related to grid development,” Aasland said. 

A transition period of two years will be introduced, and the new consumption charge will only be allowed to account for 50 percent of grid companies’ revenues. The energy ministry will then assess the new model at the end of the transition peroid.