Biodiversity should be a priority when expanding offshore wind power
27th of November 2023
“The Nordic Region must take a leading role in expanding offshore wind power without causing damage to the fishing industry and nature,” says Ola Elvestuen, chair of the Committee for a Sustainable Nordic Region.
Several of the Nordic countries are studying the opportunities for offshore wind parks to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy,
but plans are often held up by slow licensing systems, technology challenges and safety and environmental issues.
Need for rapid expansion
The Committee for a Sustainable Nordic Region has spent some time working on the question of how the Nordic countries can work more closely together to expand offshore wind power,
including discussions about marine planning, safeguards for biodiversity and sharing experiences about licensing.
No easing up on environmental requirements
The slowness of licensing systems is one of the reasons why the European Commission recently presented a whole package of measures to support the European wind power industry, which is threatened by strong competition from China.
Achieving the EU target of min. 42.5% renewable energy by 2030 will require a massive increase in wind power, and one of the Commission’s measures consists of the digitalisation and centralisation of licensing.
At its meeting during the Session of the Nordic Council in Oslo, the Sustainability Committee agreed that licensing should be harmonised without easing up on environmental requirements.
Clash of interests in the sea
The planned expansion of offshore wind capacity could put further pressure on the marine environment and compete for space with fishing and shipping, aquaculture and tourism.
New solutions will be required to avoid climate solutions having a negative impact on biodiversity, to minimise conflicts between different interests and to build local support for wind power.
Popular support a necessity
The Sustainability Committee has consulted the Committee for Knowledge and Culture on ways of working better together on research, development and innovation at Nordic universities and colleges.
Both committees also agree that popular support is a crucial parameter for the green transition.
“I will be happy if the Committee helps make progress in addressing the potential negative impacts of expanding wind power. Taking the consequences into account and avoiding any negative impact on the environment are prerequisites for Nordic Freedom adopting a positive stance to proposals. I also think they are prerequisites for public support,” says Staffan Eklöf MP, a Swedish member of the Sustainability Committee.
The Committee also wants the national grid companies to work together on an integrated Nordic electricity network.
The next step will be for the full Nordic Council to discuss the proposal in plenary.