NPD report proposes wind, petroleum offshore developments can co-exist successfully

Source: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate

In the recently published report Offshore wind – proposed areas for further studies the sea areas along the Norwegian coast have been mapped to find areas suitable for offshore wind farms.

The report concludes that there are 15 areas along the entire coast which may be suitable for wind turbines, both floating and resting on the seabed. Several interests have been taken into account when choosing the locations: environment, fisheries, seabirds, shipping, aviation, defence and petroleum.

The report has been prepared by a directorate group chaired by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) and with its brief from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. The group has consisted of representatives from the Directorate for Nature Management, the Directorate of Fisheries, the National Coastal Administration, NVE and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

”The work has resulted in a large and thorough report. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is pleased that a thorough job of designating areas for potential future offshore wind power has taken place so early in the process,” says Director General Bente Nyland.

She points out that the Marine Energy Act, adopted this year, has been based on a template from the Petroleum Act as regards awarding areas. Nyland believes this system for awarding licenses on the shelf has been thoroughly tried and tested and that it can contribute to the various industries existing side by side without conflict.

The petroleum activities use large Norwegian offshore areas. The location of wind farms must take into account discoveries, facilities, pipelines, safety zones, helicopter traffic and prospecting areas, i.e. the possibility of discoveries in both opened and unopened areas.

Arne Holhjem, director of environment and energy in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, emphasises that if commercially viable oil and gas discoveries are made in areas where wind farms may be located, the challenge will be to find solutions that will enable both future wind farms and oil or gas fields: "These are large areas with room for both activities. We are talking about co-existence.”

The report also describes the opportunity to connect wind turbines with petroleum facilities on the Norwegian continental shelf. The report concludes that this is most efficient if the wind power is connected to power cables from land, so that the facilities can receive electricity from shore when there is too little wind.

Without power cables to land, wind turbines must be combined with gas turbines on the platforms to adjust for wind power production fluctuations. In practice, this means that the gas turbines must be run non-stop. This is a costly solution and the CO2 reduction will be relatively small.

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