Norway's government proposed a new law on Friday to develop sea-based wind power as part of a plan to diversify from offshore oil and gas toward renewable energy.
Offshore wind energy may become the next adventure for the Norwegian industry and energy sector, Oil and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said in a statement of a draft bill presented by the center-left government.
The proposed act, which has to be debated and approved by parliament where the government has a slim majority, says that wind resources at sea belong to the state.
Norway will identify areas suitable for offshore wind development and then offer areas as it does for oil and gas licenses. The draft sets up technical details of applying for concessions, setting up, operating and closing installations.
The proposal creates a framework for ensuring that energy infrastructure is planned, constructed and operated with due concern for energy supply, environment, security, fisheries, sea transport and other interests, Riis-Johansen said.
The draft said that Denmark was the first country to start tests of sea-based wind turbines, in 1991.
In European Union nations, out of 760,000 megawatts of installed electricity generation capacity about 1,500 MW are offshore wind, it said. Another 2,600 MW are under construction, mostly turbines standing on the sea bed in shallow waters.
Norway is outside the EU. Norway's state-controlled StatoilHydro is developing floating wind turbines -- they could be used in far deeper waters, perhaps to help power offshore oil and gas platforms or transmit power to land.
Norway is the world's number six oil exporter and western Europe's biggest gas exporter and needs to diversify to renewable energies to reach goals of fighting climate change.
Oslo has promised to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, among the toughest goals in the world. Emissions were 7.4 percent above 1990 levels in 2007.
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)