New areas for renewable energy production at sea on the horizon!
A summary of NVE’s proposition for new areas for offshore wind
The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) has in collaboration with other relevant directorates (the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, The Norwegian Environment Agency, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency) identified 20 areas that are technically suitable for offshore wind power production, and have a low level of conflict with other affected interests. The identified areas have a potential for more offshore wind power than the enquired 30 GW, giving sufficient leeway in the upcoming detailing and in-depth assessments of the suggested areas.
The NVE’s report does not include any form of financial assessment for the new areas, nor does it give any further guidance on the development of the future offshore grid. The report does however point to the fact that the development of offshore wind farms at the identified areas will require extensive grid investments both onshore and offshore.
The areas will be subject to in debt impact assessment studies by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE) and will lead to competitions for new areas in 2025, with a proposed award of areas by Q4 2025.
More information on the areas and NVE’s assessment can be found on NVE’s website. We note that all of the suggested areas are outside of the Norwegian baseline, on the Norwegian Continental shelf. This indicates that the Government will not prioritize potential projects within the Norwegian baseline, making it difficult for Companies that seek to develop projects within the Norwegian baseline. The suggested areas from NVE are also different than the areas identified in NVE’s strategical report from 2012, besides the Sørlige Nordsjø II and Stadthavet areas from the 2012-report. The NVE has stated that the areas from 2012 report have been put aside due to higher level of conflict with other affected interests than the areas identified in the report published yesterday.
The suggested areas are shown in the map below:
Source: Proposes to investigate these 20 areas for offshore wind – NVE
Award of areas within Q4 2025 and expansion of SN II and UN
An important takeaway from NVE’s report is the proposal to expand Utsira Nord (UN) and Sørlige Nordsjø II (SN II) areas and open these for further awarding of areas for offshore wind power production in 2025. NVE and the above mentioned agencies stated that the 2025 award of areas will in their opinion only be relevant for the proposed expanded UN and SN II areas (named “Sørvest F” and “Vestavind F“) in the proposition from NVE), as all other identified areas will need to be subject to further environmental impact assessments before prospective opening. The 2023-award of the opened UN and SN II areas might therefore give crucial insight, experience, and a competitive edge for interested parties in the suggested 2025-award.
NVE has moreover stated that an expansion option for the UN subareas of 250 MW might entail a more efficient use of the opened area. NVE recommends an expansion of 750 MW of the total opened UN area, given that the expansion leads to acceptable effects on other affected interests in the area. According to NVE, an option for an additional 250 MW in each subarea for UN could entail a better utilization of the opened area. This may entail that UN could be built with a total of 1500 MW in the two subareas that will receive support schemes from the Government.
NVE has proposed a tight timeline for award of areas within Q4 2025:
Source: Timetable award 2025 (nve.no)
The timeline leaves very little room for unforeseen circumstances in the process leading up to award of the new areas, and it remains to be seen if it is possible to award further areas related to the current opened areas (UN and SN II) by the end of 2025. NVE has furthermore stated that there is not enough time to conduct a full process to open and award the other 18 suggested areas for offshore wind by 2025.
The proposed expanded Sørlige Nordsjø II-areas are included in the area “Sørvest F” as shown in the map above. The expansion will be relevant for the second phase of SN II and is shown in the map as follows by NVE:
The expansion area constitutes 525 km2, and the new suggested area “Sørvest F” will constitute a total of 2702 km2. As the map shows, the report also proposes to adjust the already opened area at SNII somewhat, as a consequence of the opened area’s possible effects on a shipping route used in this territory.
NVE presupposes that SN II first phase will have a total installed capacity of 1,4-1,5 GW, as described in the published tender documents for SN II first phase. For future phases for Sørvest F (currently SN II), NVE proposes that the area is divided into 3-4 subareas of 350-400 km2. NVE states that each subarea should have a minimum density of ca. 3,5 MW/km2, corresponding to 1,4 GW for a 400 km2 area. The upper limit for installed capacity must be decided separately for each subarea, with regard to environmental interests, coexistence with other industries, grid connection and technical-economic terms.
The new Sørvest F area, including SN II first phase, has according to NVE a potential for between 5,7 – 11,5 GW installed capacity.
NVE has identified additional areas related to Utsira Nord, proposed as study area “Vestavind F”. The additional area in Vestavind F constitutes ca. 1000 km2, and is described by NVE in the following map:
The area will be subject to further impact studies and detailing by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE). It will be interesting to see how much offshore wind the area might be opened for in the 2025 competition for areas. This remains to be decided.