Identification of areas for offshore wind energy

A directorate group, led by NVE, was requested to identify new areas suitable for development of 30 GW offshore wind, and on 25 April 2023 they published their proposal for 20 new areas to be strategically assessed for offshore wind development.

Excluding Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II, only three of the twelve areas proposed by NVE in 2010 for offshore wind development are assessed as suitable for further investigation (Stadthavet, Frøyabanken og Sørlige Nordsjø I).

The 20 areas equal 54 000 km2 which is estimated to be six to thirteen times larger than required for the development of 30 GW offshore wind, depending on capacity density and utilization rate. The list of identified areas will be adjusted and reduced based on the strategical impact study and the consultation round.

Further, the directorate group concludes that it will not be possible to award any licences to the identified areas by 2025, except for an expansion of Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord (the areas identified as Sørvest F and Vestavind F). However, the latter requires that an ambitious and very tight timeline for opening and awarding the expansion areas is followed.

Identified areas proposed for assessment

The directorate group has identified 20 areas spread along the Norwegian coast that are technically suitable for offshore wind energy and have the least conflicts of interests. The directorate group’s assessments of the areas have been based on existing knowledge and data, where there is a need for power onshore, available grid capacity, and effects on the power system by connecting the proposed areas to the onshore grid. NVE has not made any economic assessments of extensive offshore wind development in Norway. They underline that offshore wind is not profitable in Norway today and with an extensive development there will be need for large grid investments, both to transmit the electricity onshore and in the onshore grid.

The directorate group has agreed on 19 of the areas. However, the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Directorate of Fisheries dissented on the election of the area Sønnavind A in Skagerrak due to potential conflicts with birds and important fishery interests.

The following 20 areas have been identified:

Further details on the areas and relevant turbine technology:

AreaTotal km2Type of technology
Nordavind A4275Floating
Nordavind B2239Floating
Nordavind C1054Floating
Nordavind D3642Floating
Nordvest A11 307Floating
Nordvest B3437Floating
Nordvest C5582Floating
Vestavind A1884Floating
Vestavind B2985Floating
Vestavind C1040Floating
Vestavind D724Floating
Vestavind E1475Floating
Vestavind F (incl. Utsira Nord)1989Floating
Sørvest A1456Bottom fixed and floating
Sørvest B2179Bottom fixed
Sørvest C1766Bottom fixed
Sørvest D1215Bottom fixed and floating
Sørvest E1016Bottom fixed and floating
Sørvest F (incl. Sørlige Nordsjø II)2702Bottom fixed
Sønnavind A2900Bottom fixed and floating


Thirteen of the identified areas are suitable for floating offshore wind, three of the areas are suitable for bottom fixed offshore wind and four of the areas are suitable for both floating and bottom fixed offshore wind.

The directorate group has proposed a program for the strategical impact study of the identified areas, which will be less extensive than the subsequent specific impact studies for each of the final project areas.

Expansion of Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II

The directorate group has proposed an expansion of the areas for Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø, named Vestavind F and Sørvest F.

Concerning Utsira Nord, a potential capacity increase, which may increase the area’s capacity with 750 MW in Sørvest F, has been identified.

Further, regarding Sørlige Nordsjø II, a potential capacity increase of 5.7 GW to 11.5 GW has been identified. This will imply an increase of capacity between 2.7 GW and 8.5 GW compared to the original capacity of Sørlige Nordsjø II.

Timeline for announcement of tenders for new offshore wind

Excluding the potential expansions of Utsira Nord (Vestavind F) and Sørlige Nordsjø II (Sørvest F), the directorate group concludes that it is not possible to open and award licenses for offshore wind development in the 18 areas by 2025. The areas will be subject to the ordinary procedures of the Offshore Energy Act for opening and announcing an offshore energy production area. These procedures, inter alia, include the completion of strategic impact studies and a proposal for opening the areas, both of which are subject to consultation rounds. Hence, the timeline for when and if these areas will be opened for offshore wind development is unclear.

For the expansion of Utsira Nord (Vestavind F) and Sørlige Nordsjø II (Sørvest F) the directorate group concludes that it is possible to complete an announcement and grant licenses by Q4 2025. However, awarding licenses by the end of 2025 presupposes a strict timeline, where several of the following processes must be prepared in parallel and without delays:

  • The proposal for the investigation program for the strategic impact assessment must be sent for consultation immediately after the proposal made on 25 April 2023;
  • the investigation program for the strategic impact assessment must be determined during Q3 2023;
  • external expert investigations will have to begin during Q4 2023 and must be completed no later than Q3 2024;
  • the strategic impact assessment must be completed and compiled by Q4 2024;
  • a proposal for expanding the areas, including an investigation, must be open to public consultation in Q4 2024;
  • the decision to expand the areas must be made in Q1 2025;
  • the announcement of tenders for licenses must be made in Q2 2025, no later than one month after the expansion decision; and
  • the licenses must be awarded in Q4 2025.

Whether such ambitious timeline for the expansion of Utsira Nord and Sørlige Nordsjø II can be completed remains to be seen.

CLP is available to discuss the details of the offshore wind licensing process. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Amund Berthelsen Erdal

Magnus N. Ryenbakken

Photo: Shutterstuck