On 12 June 2020 the Norwegian Ministry for Energy and Petroleum announced the opening up of the two first areas for offshore wind in accordance with the Ocean Energy Act. The «Utsira Nord» and «Sørlige Nordsjø II» will officially open for offshore wind power project license applications on 1 January 2021. The two areas will open up for a combined development of 4500MW.
On the same date further clarifications on the licensing prosess was adopted by Royal Decree («Havenergiforskriften») which will be in force from 1 January 2021. As of that date it will be possible to submit a project spesific impact assessment programme suggestion. Besides a description of the planned wind farm, the programme shall contain information about the relevant construction solution, the project area and potential positive and negative impact on other industries (e.g. fishery), the environment and the society as such, in addition to the cost of the project.
Approval of the programme will trigger a two year time period for impact assessment before the applicant can apply for concession.
Following concession grant the wind farm project will have to be operational within three years (§10,1). It will be possible to apply for extentions (§11,1) - for additional two year periods - however, such applications will be relatively hard to obtain. Delay may result in termination of the concession (§11,2).
The Ministry will issue further guidelines regarding several aspects and requirements related to the application procedure, including further details about what the application should include.
The opening up of these areas is an important milestone in the development of offshore wind farming on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The regulations appear to ensure efficient and relatively expedient application procedures, which will hopefully facilitate efficient and expedient development of offshore wind projects in Norway. The future has just opened for business.