Norway to slow down onshore wind power developments

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway announced plans on Friday to tighten rules for onshore wind power developments to better protect nature, a move that is likely to slow surging growth in the sector.

The country has seen a boom in wind power development in the past few years, but has also seen public protests with environmental campaigners accusing some developers of building larger turbines than originally approved, obscuring landscapes and endangering birds.

The government’s proposals, which need to be approved by parliament, include setting stricter requirements on turbine height, shortening project implementation time and measures to ensure that projects are economically viable.

The government also said it would better take into account turbines’ impact on the landscape and reindeer husbandry, and give more say to municipalities in approving new projects.

“In the future, we will facilitate a limited and more moderate wind power development than we currently see,” Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru told a news conference.

“This does not mean that wind power development will end... Wind power will have a role in our power system, also in the future,” she added.

Last year Norway put on hold the approval of any new wind power projects after police had to intervene to stop protesters from vandalising some construction sites, although the development of existing licenses continued.

The country produces almost all its electricity from renewable sources, mainly hydropower.

While Norway is expected to have a power surplus for several years to come, demand is growing due to electrification of transport, offshore oil and gas platforms and new industries, such as data centres, Bru said.

Installed wind power capacity in Norway has more than doubled to 2,662 megwatt (MW) since 2017 as developers rushed to put online new projects to qualify for a subsidy regime ending next year, data from energy market regulator NVE showed.

Wind turbines generate enough electricity for 500,000 people in Norway out of a 5.3 million population, according to the ministry.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Susan Fenton