The offshore wind industry doesn´t have time for cable disputes


PHOTO: Øyvind Gravås

The government's internal disagreement over hybrid cables jeopardizes the Norwegian offshore wind development, writes cluster manager Arvid Nesse. 

The sky-high electricity bills this winter are an important warning: We must increase power production in Norway. We who represent the Norwegian offshore wind industry experience broad political support for a new green major investment in offshore power. In recent weeks, however, we have seen the political wind turn.

To Dagens Næringsliv, the Center Party states that they are against hybrid cables from Norwegian offshore wind farms. The interpretation of the government's own platform is thus the core of the dispute, where the question is whether a hybrid cable should be defined as a foreign export cable or not. A hybrid cable can supply power from offshore wind to both the Norwegian mainland and abroad.

Let us be crystal clear: Without hybrid cables, the development of offshore wind in Norway will not be profitable. We are completely dependent on exporting the power surplus from production. And, we have to emphasize the word surplus. According to the report from Process 21, Norway will need 56 Twh of extra electricity production to meet future demand. Offshore wind farms can produce far above this. The premise that we will get more expensive electricity for Norwegian consumers if we deliver to other countries is therefore not correct. On the contrary, export earnings will make the development more profitable, improve the balance between supply and demand and create more jobs locally in Norway. That should be music in the Center Party's ears.

In the coming months, the government will distribute the areas on the offshore wind field Sørlige Nordsjø II. The message from the relevant developers is unanimous: Only hybrid projects will be profitable, ie that the offshore wind farms are connected to several markets in addition to the mainland. The companies said this clearly in their responses to the public hearing the government received in the licensing process last year. A capacity of 3 GW has been opened on the field, which equals electricity for 650,000 households annually. The wind farm will consist of only bottom-fixed turbines.


Arvid Nesse

Cluster Manager Arvid Nesse.

Fortunately, the Labor Party is keeping the door open for hybrid cables from Sørlige Nordsjø II. Our concern, however, is that offshore wind development could be an unfortunate victim of an unnecessary political dispute. This creates uncertainty for the Norwegian industry - companies that are ready and able to accelerate an industrial adventure that Norway desperately needs.

 The development of floating offshore wind in Norway is rapid - and the potential for export success here is enormous. An analysis made by Menon Economics shows that Norway can absorb 20 percent of the global market for floating offshore wind. However, success presupposes that we get targeted instruments, are speeding up and that decision makers have a clear vision of success.

Norway currently has a globally leading position in floating offshore wind. We have opened up for a large-scale development of floating turbines on the Utsira North field in the North Sea, which will be the world's first full-scale floating wind farm. This wind farm will be connected only to Norwegian mainland and will supply Norwegian consumers. If this development is also delayed due to ambiguities regarding cables, we are in danger of losing our solid international position.

Power prices now are thus a reminder that the production of green electricity in Norway must increase. Profitability is an obvious driving force in addition to the environmental benefits. The green shift involves electrification, both for industry and for Norwegian households. We therefore hope that the governing parties will agree on the direction further, so that we ensure predictability. Norway does not have time for a rematch and disputes over offshore wind.

This article was first published in Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv. 

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