The Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has recently appointed a working group tasked to draft a new act that will govern permitting and construction of offshore wind power within Finland’s exclusive economic zone (the “Finnish EEZ“). The new act will provide an auction-based method for the purposes of granting project areas to interested developers as well as a new set of permits of offshore wind power projects in a situation where the existing legislation provides no functioning legal framework addressing these issues. No subsidies or other forms of State aid are planned to be offered.
Contents, Timetable and Key Takeaways
As is well known, the water areas around Finland offer great potential for construction of offshore wind power, which would create exciting opportunities, among other things, for the production of green hydrogen at an industrial scale. The working group is now exploring ways to attract investments to offshore wind power projects located within the Finnish EEZ, where many developers are currently competing for the same project areas. For this reason, and in line with the new right-wing Finnish Government’s program of June 2023, the working group has deemed necessary to enact new legislation intended to improve the current regulatory regime, arguing that this will serve the best interests of market participants as well as the State of Finland in the long term.
According to the working group, the new act will
- clarify how and when developers can receive site exclusivity to project areas located within the Finnish EEZ;
- provide conditions for researching project areas as well as constructing wind farms and related constructions within the Finnish EEZ, including rules on compensating the use of project areas to the Finnish government;
- reconcile the rules concerning offshore wind power projects with other legislation governing, inter alia, wind power projects located in Finnish territorial waters and coastal areas.
The Ministry is working under the assumption that the offshore wind power can be constructed to the Finnish EEZ on an arm’s length basis, meaning that no subsidies or other forms of State aid would need to be offered.
The working group is planning to send its legislative proposal to State and other public operators as well as market participants for a consultation round during May 2024. The Ministry declined to comment whether exploitation permit applications requesting for site exclusivity that have already been submitted to the Finnish Government will be processed before the new act is introduced to the Finnish Parliament, but merely stated that this is a political decision for the Finnish Government to make under the existing legislation. Whilst it is widely speculated that the existing applications will be processed and decisions to grant (possibly timewise limited) exploitation permits will be made, it is clear such exploitation permits (if any) will be affected by the new legislation instead of the Finnish Government continuing to accept site exclusivity applications on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis.
We are actively monitoring all legislative developments affecting the Finnish onshore and offshore wind sector and would be pleased to discuss any questions that you may have.