A proposal to build up to 3.5 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity, coupled with a pledge to cut marine diesel use 50% by 2030, have Norway pushing for a lead in subsidy-free renewable energy while driving down its demand for the energy source that has long driven its economy.
The country will be drawing on its considerable expertise in offshore oil and gas, as well as shipping and shipbuilding, as it seeks “to open two new areas in the North Sea with the potential to hold installed capacity of up to 3.5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind,” reports OilPrice.com.
The second area, known as Southern North Sea II, “is close to Norway’s maritime border with Denmark and could potentially connect offshore wind power generation from the area with Europe’s power grid,” said Petroleum Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg.
Noting that his country is open to yet more offshore wind development in the North Sea, Freiberg added that “Norway doesn’t plan any new subsidies for renewable energy, as it believes the development of energy sources alternative to fossil fuels should be market-based.”
Proud that it generates 96% of its electricity from hydropower, Norway is well-positioned to become a major exporter of wind power, with generation from turbines jumping by 34.9% in 2017, OilPrice writes. A strong contender to lead that growth will be state-held fossil major Equinor, which changed its name from Statoil last year “to reflect its ambition to be associated with an energy—rather than oil—company.”
With projects under way in Germany and the United States, Equinor is in Scotland, as well, where it recently completed the planet’s first fully operational floating wind farm.
Citing an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report last month, OilPrice.com says that while “the trend to move offshore wind turbines in deeper waters adds to installation costs,” the financial picture has been aided by “innovation in turbine technology, increased experience with project development, and economies of scale.”
Also in the news from Norway is the recent government decision to cut the country’s considerable marine diesel use 50% by 2030. Described as “difficult, but possible” by Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen, the federal plan “focuses on four carbon reduction strategies: electrification/batteries, hybrid solutions, liquefied natural gas, and biogas,” reports CleanTechnica.
In an interview with Norwegian media outlet TU, Prime Minister Erna Solberg expressed confidence in the adaptive and innovative powers of the country’s multi-faceted maritime industry. “In 2015, Ampere, the world’s first large battery-operated ship, was put into operation,” she declared. “Last year, the world’s first fully-electric ferry fleet went into operation on the E39 Anda-Lote route. Soon we will have 80 electric ferries in operation. It shows how we, with the cooperation of all parties, can make change happen quickly.”
But not everyone shares Solberg’s optimism. Hege Økland, manager of NCE Maritime Clean Tech, panned her country’s plans to eliminate diesel as being long on promises and short on “solid action at a time when the clock is ticking.”
With the IPCC’s 2030 deadline to hit a 45% decarbonization target just 11 years away, “requirements for low- and zero-emission solutions for vessels in the petroleum and aquaculture industry must be put in place quickly,” Marius Holm of the environmental group Zero told TU. Urging the government on to rapid action, Holm added that “these are vessels that collectively account for large emissions, a total of 1.4 million tonnes of CO2,” out of Norway’s annual total of 53 million tonnes.
As with its ambitions for offshore wind development, Norway has its sights set on the export market for clean shipping technology, even as it tries to clean up its own marine diesel emissions. “Norway needs the world, and the world needs Norway,” Sveinung Oftedal, senior vice president at the Ministry of Climate and Environment, told TU.