Norway postpones Utsira Nord deadline
The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has postponed the application deadline for Utsira Nord offshore wind zone.
It is also making changes to the prequalification criteria for offshore wind in Sørlige North Sea II.
The move is a result of the process of notifying state aid to the offshore wind areas Sørlige North Sea II and Utsira Nord to EFTA’s monitoring body ESA.
In the call for proposals for project areas in Utsira Nord, the model is such that project areas are to be allocated based on qualitative criteria and that competition for state aid is carried out at a later stage as part of the licensing process.
The Ministry said it wishes to spend some more time with ESA and the European Commission to gain sufficient security that these three areas can be awarded based on qualitative criteria with a competition for state aid at a later date, as the government has proposed.
This must be clarified before the ministry can receive applications for project areas.
Aasland said: “We will develop offshore wind in a sustainable way that creates ripple effects.
“This is an important part of the government’s offshore wind investment.
“It is good for Norway, and it is good for the development of offshore wind.
“It is particularly important that we find good models that contribute to the development of floating offshore wind.
“I therefore believe that we must get sufficient assurance that the model for Utsira Nord is compatible with the state aid regulations, so that we can receive applications and allocate project areas as soon as possible.”
The Ministry said it publish a new application deadline as soon as possible with sufficient time for all actors to update their applications and deliver within a new deadline.
In the updated call for Sørlige Nordsjø II, the prequalification criteria for sustainability and positive ripple effects have been changed to minimum requirements that applicants must meet.
The minimum requirements will also be included as contractual requirements in the contract for difference.
The heading for the criterion “positive local spillovers” is changed to “positive spillovers” to make it clear that spillovers are not limited to Norway.
Sustainability and positive spin-offs will no longer be prequalification criteria. This means that the applicants will no longer be assessed against each other within these two categories.
The changes are made to avoid delaying the process for allocating the areas, the Ministry said, so that ESA is able to quickly approve that state aid is awarded.
The pre-qualification criterion of ability to execute does not change.
In order to give the players time to follow up on the changes, the application deadline is set to 15 November 2023.
This will not affect the timing of the auction.
Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said: “We believe our original proposal is in line with the guidelines for state aid.
“We could spend more time with ESA to get approval for this, but that would significantly delay the auction on Sørlige Nordsjø II.
“For the sake of progress, we are therefore choosing to make changes now.
“I believe that we are still taking care of sustainability and positive spin-offs in a good way through the model with minimum requirements.”