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Diverting Offshore Windfarms From Adjacent Farms

Due to wake loss, offshore wind farms can “steal” the capacity of other farms up to 20%, 50 km away. According to Ph.D. Candidate Eirik Finseras at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, the regulation is unclear and has to be advanced to accommodate large-scale offshore wind development in the North Sea and other ocean areas.

Diverting Offshore Windfarms From Adjacent Farms

According to Ph.D. Candidate Eirik Finserås, the extraction of offshore wind resources is poorly regulated and only loosely mentioned in the Law of the Sea Convention. Image Credit: Kim E. Andreassen

The incentive to develop an offshore wind farm can diminish with just a five percent reduction in capacity, based on economic considerations.

Eirik Finserås, Ph.D. Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen

Finserås recently published the study in Marine Policy, which inspects Norway's planned offshore wind farm development in “Sørlige Nordsjø II” in the North Sea, in partnership with scientists from the Bergen Offshore Wind Centre (BOW).

Stealing Wind From the Danes

The Norwegian authorities are presently in the process of strategizing for the establishment of offshore wind projects in the "Sørlige Nordsjø II" area. This site is situated roughly 22 km to the southeast of the anticipated Danish offshore wind park, Nordsren III, within Danish territorial waters.

The Norwegian offshore wind farm in Sorlige Nordsjo II will likely steal wind from the proximate Danish planned offshore wind farms. Whether this will have any legal consequences for the Norwegian plans is difficult to say.

Eirik Finserås, Ph.D. Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen

Poorly Regulated

As per Finserås, the oversight of offshore wind energy extraction is inadequately regulated and is only briefly addressed in the Law of the Sea Convention. This convention asserts that nations possess sovereign rights for the extraction of wind energy resources.

Beyond the recognition of this right, the Law of the Sea Convention does not impose any explicit limitations on the extraction of wind energy and its likely cross-border wake effects. More implicitly, however, one could interpret one potential limitation as meaning that you need to notify and consult other States that your offshore wind farm may have transboundary wake effects.

Eirik Finserås, Ph.D. Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen

Apart from the responsibility of being a considerate neighbor by engaging in consultations with other nations, there is no obligatory requirement to establish agreements with them or to undertake additional measures to mitigate potential transboundary wake effects.

Eirik Finserås adds, “As far as I know, Norwegian authorities have not consulted the Danes with regards to the likely transboundary wake effects resulting from offshore wind development in Sorlige Nordsjo II.”

More Political Cooperation is Needed

To ensure an efficient energy transition, authorities in States should collaborate and find appropriate solutions to avoid wake losses,” says Finserås.

It is feasible to create legally binding agreements between states at various levels, whether through the European Union (EU) or by adhering to other international laws that pertain to two or more states.

In any case, regulatory frameworks need to be developed and made clearer regarding the regulation of offshore wind farms and the challenges related to wake effects, such that the green energy transition is carried out as smoothly and effectively as possible,” says Finserås.

Journal Reference

Finserås, E., et al. (2024). Gone with the wind? Wind farm-induced wakes and regulatory gaps. Marine Policy.


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