Norway's Aker Offshore Wind and state-controlled Equinor are gearing up for an expected boom in offshore wind energy as the government prepares to release details of wind energy leasing rounds in the Utsira Nord and Sorlige Nordsjo 2 areas.
Aker ASA's Aker Offshore Wind wants to develop both bottom-fixed offshore wind in the shallow southern North Sea and floating offshore wind in deeper waters to the north, according to chief executive Astrid Skarheim Onsum.
“We are working on projects for both these areas. Earlier this year, we announced a partnership with [power company] Statkraft with an aim to develop joint offshore wind projects off Norway,” she said.
Onsum explained that the first project in the southern area is already in the planning phase.
“[The European Union] indicates that there will be need for several hundred gigawatts of renewable energy in the North Sea. A Norwegian strategy for offshore wind can redefine Norway as an energy nation, and lay the foundations for a new industry in the country,” she said.
Onsum believes Norway has significant advantages — few other nations know their outer continental shelfs as well, given the nation's long history of fishing and offshore oil production.
“We understand the challenges and the potential conflicts without good co-operation at sea,” she said.
Aker Offshore Wind expects the government to present guidelines for licence applications that are clear about the process, criteria and timeframes.
An Equinor spokesman said the state-controlled giant sees significant potential in Norwegian offshore wind.
“We are interested in both of the proposed [leasing] areas, and see potential for power export to Europe and UK, but also to supply offshore installations with power from offshore wind,” he said.
The spokesman added that Equinor believes floating offshore wind will provide the Norwegian supplier industry with significant new export opportunities.
In June last year the government opened the Utsira Nord and Sorlige Nordsjo 22 offshore areas for renewable energy development, including wind power, paving the way for a licensing round. Limits have been set on the amount of wind power that can be developed in the areas.
Details about the application process and support mechanisms are expected in coming weeks.