Norway turns its back on gas and oil to become a renewable superpower

General view of the Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by Orsted off the coast of Blackpool, Britain.
General view of the Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by Orsted off the coast of Blackpool, Britain.   -   Copyright  Phil Noble/REUTERS
By Doloresz Katanich  with Reuters

Norway has unveiled plans for a major expansion of its offshore wind energy production by 2040, aiming to turn a country that has built its wealth on oil and gas into an exporter of renewable electricity.

The centre-left government, which has come under fire from environmentalists for continuing to support the oil and gas industry, set a target to develop 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2040.

"This would nearly double our power output," says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Norway, which says the world still needs its oil and gas during the transition to a cleaner energy future, believes developing offshore wind will allow it to build on the know-how of its existing energy industry.

Oil and gas firms have lined up to develop renewables in Norway

Norway has earmarked two areas in the North Sea to accommodate up to 4.5 gigawatt (GW) of floating and bottom-fixed wind turbine capacity amid strong interest from energy firms.

A wide range of utilities, oil and gas firms and engineering companies have lined up to develop offshore power projects in Norway, including Equinor, Shell, British Petroleum (BP), Denmark's Orsted and Italy's Eni.

Going from one of Europe's biggest oil producers to exporting renewables

Norway needs more power for domestic consumption, but the new plan far exceeds the expected demand from households and industry.

"A significant portion of the electricity will be exported to other countries," reads a statement from the government.

To date, Norway has opened two North Sea areas for the development of up to 4.5 GW of bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind, with the first tender for 1.5 GW expected later this year.

The domestic energy industry, which had criticised the government for moving too slowly, welcomed the project's ambition.

"This will lay the foundation for industrial ocean wind development," the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association said in a statement.

Watch the video above to learn more about this project.