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Protests Threaten Norway’s Onshore Wind Power Growth

Western Europe’s largest oil producer, Norway, is currently reviewing its regulatory framework for new onshore wind developments amid protests against wind turbine installations in some parts of the country earlier this year.

The country’s onshore wind sector, in which foreign companies own around half of the onshore plants, is set to more than double its installed capacity by next year, but after 2021 uncertainties in regulations regarding new developments could put a brake to Norway’s booming onshore wind industry, analysts and experts tell Reuters.

The Norwegian Energy Regulatory Authority, NVE, imposed in April this year a moratorium on new onshore wind project approvals. 

Protests against construction of wind turbines on the island of Froeya near Trondheim led to the suspension of the construction works in May, in one of the latest examples that local residents are not all that green when it comes to construction sites in their ‘own backyards’ and close to their homes.

In April, NVE said that it had identified 13 areas that it thinks are the most suitable to host new wind farms in the future, and those 13 areas are predominantly in Norway’s south. Areas in the north that may have ideal wind conditions were not included because of scarce network capacity and infrastructure and because they are homes to herders of reindeer.

Related: How The World’s No.1 Oil Importer Deals With Higher Prices

The plan with the 13 areas for new onshore wind development is open for public consultation until October 1. More steps will have to be taken before an actual plan is approved by Norwegian authorities.

Meanwhile, Norway is set to add 2 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind installed capacity by the end of 2020, more than doubling the 1.7-GW completed capacity as of the end of 2018.

But after 2021, especially if the regulator’s moratorium is extended, onshore wind developers could see their project pipeline dry up, Andreas Thon Aasheim with Norway’s wind power industry association Norwea told Reuters. Yet, foreign investors are still looking to invest in Norway’s wind sector, he said.

At the same time, Norway proposed earlier this year to open two new areas in the North Sea with the potential to hold installed capacity of up to 3.5 GW of offshore wind, as the country aims to use its offshore oil and gas expertise to boost the wind power exports of Norwegian companies.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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