Although Norway is not an EU member state, substantial parts of the legislative proposals on the Green Deal fall within the scope of the EEA Agreement. It is the Norwegian government’s goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 50-55% by 2030. One strategy to achieve this goal is through the development of an internationally competitive offshore wind energy sector. The government has high aims for offshore wind development (30 GW by 2040) and has selected offshore wind as one of two strategic areas for export.
The development of offshore wind is partly linked to the government’s strategy to electrify offshore oil and gas activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), as the gas turbines on the petroleum platforms of the NCS account for 23% of Norway’s total CO2 emissions. The development of floating wind technology in Norway has recently accelerated. A floating wind demonstration project has been granted government support and is currently under construction. In the early 2021, two areas in the North Sea were announced to be opened for offshore wind production. The respective allocation and auctioning procedures are expected to be finalised in the late 2023.
In addition to these formal governmental opening processes, there has been a mobilisation of businesses and other local/regional partners for the development of offshore wind parks in specific regions. In Helgeland, a coastal area located close to the Arctic circle and a focal area of this case study, plans are being developed for a multi-use wind-park combined with other economic activities e.g. aquaculture, charging stations. These plans have not been accepted by the government at this stage. Even so, Helgeland is considered an attractive region for offshore wind development, with significant presence of diverse energy businesses, maritime industries and infrastructure, accessible development areas and favourable wind conditions. The target location overlaps with an area that has recently (April 2023) been considered as suitable for offshore wind development by Norwegian public management institutions. If successful, the proposed initiative would be the first ocean multi-use concept implemented in Norway.
The case study also aims to analyse and understand broader developments in the offshore wind sector in Norway. Traditionally, offshore renewable energy governance has been hampered by spatial conflicts, institutional barriers and political inertia partly due to diverging perspectives on electrification and whether the industry should serve domestic or international market. In addition, there are policy and legal challenges concerning the development of ocean multi-use concepts.
The case study will generate knowledge about institutional barriers that hamper the performance and integration of marine and energy policies in Norway; analyse the application and performance of e-governance; provide insight into the implementation of the EU Green Deal in a non-member state with close connections to the European market and governance regimes; and develop recommendations for improved environmental policy integration.
The case study focuses on the application of the ocean multi-use concept in Helgeland while also covering broader developments in Norway’s offshore wind and the country’s connection to the EU policy frameworks and energy market. Hence, the scale of the study stretches from local to supranational. Administratively, this means that we will study governance processes from the municipal to the European level.
The underlying assumption is that existing marine and energy policy mechanisms are slow to adapt to new sectoral activities (offshore wind) and concepts (e.g. multi-use, marine business parks) and that the fragmented governance regime is a major barrier to achieving targets related to the EU Green Deal.
The main overarching research question is: How can we understand and overcome institutional barriers that hamper the performance and integration of marine and energy policies in Norway? Additional specific research questions are:
How do Norwegian objectives connect to the EU Green Deal?
Which policies are relevant to the Helgeland case study and what are the institutional barriers impacting the effective implementation of the offshore wind / ocean multi-use concept?
How do marine and energy governance arrangements enable or constrain the achievement of Norway’s objectives in connection to the EU Green Deal?
How has the concept of e-governance been applied in moving forward with the Helgeland offshore wind project and in planning/preparing for offshore wind in Norway more generally?
How does the interplay between institutional barriers, formal and informal collaborations and e-governance tools enable or constrain governance arrangements embedded in the implementation of Norwegian policy objectives linked to the EU Green Deal?
How much and what kind of capacity do actors and coalitions have to deliver on the Norwegian policy objectives linked to the EU Green Deal?
What digital tools and e-governance interventions do actors and coalitions use in policy-related practices and how do these stakeholders assess the role and performance of these tools in delivering Norwegian policy objectives linked to the EU Green Deal?
The case study is managed by the Arctic University of Norway (UiT) and Arctic Energy Partners (AEP). It is the primary interest of AEP that PERMAGOV can contribute to the realisation of the project in Helgeland. As a co-owner of the Ocean Cluster Helgeland (OCH), AEP emphasises the regional spin-off effects that the project will generate. In addition, both AEP and OCH have formulated as their mission to develop energy production in northern Norway and consider offshore wind as a low-hanging fruit in renewable energy development. Offshore wind development in Helgeland would contribute to the establishment of the governments’ ambitions for green growth in the Norwegian business sector. Electrification of the oil and gas production will help reduce emissions and advance the vision of “The Arctic way to zero.” The floating wind energy production is an area of innovation where Norway has competitive advantage which should be capitalised on and approached with a ‘smart specialisation’ ethos in mind. AEP is also interested in contributing to the development of an ocean multi-use concept. They believe that this concept will provide better co-existence between different marine users.
Connection with other case studies
Maritime Transport: One connection worth exploring is to what extent the needs of maritime transport (case studies one and two) drive marine energy projects in various contexts within the energy regime.