Renewable Energy and Infrastructure
The production and transportation of renewable energy is a critical factor in green change. Norway is already electrified, and a leader in the production of hydropower, wind energy, bio energy and district heating. The development of new physical and digital infrastructure for the production, transport and storage of energy raises issues as diverse as land acquisition, concession arrangements, central government relations, ICT, construction, supply, operation and maintenance agreements, and physical and financial power purchase agreements and transactions.
In Norway, there is currently a strong push towards digitalisation and renovation of energy-sector infrastructure. The EU’s “Winter package” – Clean Energy for All Europeans – provides that all EU citizens must disengage themselves from a carbon-based energy system. Districts which produce their own renewable energy will be able to take over ownership and responsibility for the maintenance of energy grids, manage energy distribution, act as aggregates and convert any residual excess energy.
The energy sector faces numerous challenges, including:
- corporate restructuring and ownership
- a need for new ICT solutions
- a need for extensive upgrading of energy transport infrastructure
- economic, practical and legal hindrances to new ways of transporting and converting renewable energy
- port electrification and transportation
- smart houses and smart cities
- stricter contingency and security requirements for vulnerable and important infrastructure
- stricter requirements for the protection of natural diversity and the environment
Lawyers working in this sector need to have substantial industry and stakeholder insight, as well as knowledge and experience of related legal fields. Our specialists are experienced in areas such as water course and energy law, ICT law, energy trading, construction, environmental law and transactional law.
Our many years of public-sector experience and contacts in the public administration make a vital contribution to projects in this sector.
We have the capacity to put together teams of specialists in different practice areas to provide our clients with effective, tailored solutions for individual projects. We are also known for our valuable input on strategic matters.
When disputes arise, we can also provide Norway’s best litigation lawyers.
“…quick to analyse complex issues and find solutions.”
– Chambers and Partners, 2019
Areas of expertise
Hydropower – acquisition, development, operation
Hjort’s lawyers are experienced advisers on questions related to licensing obligations, development (of both new and R&D projects), concession renewal and revision, and general matters concerning licensing terms and energy tax.
- Acquisition of water course rights, judicial assessment and expropriation
- Applications for acquisition and/or regulatory licences
- Renewal and revision of hydropower licences
- Infrastructure renovation and development projects
- Protection of cultural heritage
- Agreements on rental and operation of production
Wind power – acquisition, development, operation
Onshore wind power is on the verge of becoming profitable, even without green certificates. Offshore wind power is opening up new possibilities for energy production by Norwegian industry. Hjort’s lawyers assist with all stages of development projects, as well as transactions and reorganisations. We have many years’ experience of environmental matters, and our contacts in central government make us a valuable partner.
Land and rights acquisition
All renewable energy infrastructure, including power transmission grids, dams and power stations, require land and space for production. Our lawyers have extensive experience of conducting negotiations related to real estate rights, water course rights and other rights, as well as litigation, expropriation proceedings and judicial assessments.
Development and production upgrades
Hjort assists clients with large development and upgrade projects in the energy sector, particularly in relation to issues such as license applications, land-acquisition agreements and estimates, the negotiation of building and supply contracts, and ongoing assistance during the construction phase.
Infrastructure – power transmission grids and grid regulation
Energy transportation infrastructure is strongly regulated in the Energy Act and related regulations. There are comprehensive guidelines on financial framework conditions and grid operation and development. At Hjort, we have substantial knowledge of the regulatory requirements applicable to grid companies, and the scope of their obligations to manufacturers and energy recipients. We advise on matters such as:
- land acquisition and estimation
- grid rental agreements
- assessment of connection obligations and construction contributions
- transfer of network facilities
- requirements for corporate and functional separation
- assessment of legal implications of the revenue model
Digitalisation of the energy sector
The Norwegian energy industry is undergoing major changes, and faces extensive digitalisation needs. Information and systems increasingly have to interact with other systems and stakeholders in the creation of intelligent, future-oriented solutions.
New ICT solutions present a need for agreements and clarification of the regulatory framework. They also offer new opportunities for more efficient resource utilisation based on new technologies and the processing of large amounts of information.
We have extensive knowledge of both the specific requirements applicable to the power industry and general requirements and challenges that arise in connection with digitalisation processes.
We assist with:
- identification of and adaptation to regulatory requirements related to digitalisation, including information security and privacy requirements
- agreements with suppliers on the delivery, operation and maintenance of systems
- different forms of cooperation agreements
We have extensive knowledge of the legal framework which governs energy trading, whether through the marketplace or through bilateral contracts. We advise on both financial and physical energy contracts, as well as other instruments related to energy generation.
We assist with:
- preparation and conclusion of physical and financial power contracts
- regulatory issues in Norway and the EU related to energy trading, including market behaviour and organisation of operations (MiFID II/MiFIR/MAR, EMIR, REMIT)
- sales of electricity certificates, emissions permits and other instruments related to energy generation
- questions concerning regulations and membership of marketplaces
Security and contingency planning
Electricity is fundamental to all societal functions, and society’s increasing dependence on electricity makes energy supply a key concern. Digital developments in both the energy sector and the rest of society are driving changes in the risk and vulnerability profile of the energy system. Safety and contingency plans are regulated by the Energy Act and the Energy Preparedness Regulations. Among other things, these include requirements on repair readiness, security measures, information and ICT security, protection of operational control systems and the organisation of the Power Supply Emergency Organisation. In addition, certain stakeholders and objects in the energy supply sector are subject to the Security Act. Hjort’s lawyers are highly familiar with legal, regulatory and financial framework conditions related to security and emergency preparedness, and are experienced in advising companies in the energy industry on the development of with security and contingency plans.
Competition law and public procurement in the energy sector
Hjort has extensive expertise on and experience with competition law issues and public procurements, especially related to the energy industry.
Taxation of power companies
The energy industry is subject to a number of special taxes. In the case of hydropower production, these are natural resource tax and economic rent tax, although property tax is also important because production plants and grids are valued according to special rules. Hjort’s lawyers have advised on a number of key legal cases in recent years. Several of our lawyers have previously worked with power plant taxation for the public administration, while others hold special qualifications related to more general legal issues in the power industry. This enables us to provide highly qualified advice in this area.
Smart energy, innovation and adaptation
Offshore wind power, photovoltaic cells, batteries, artificial intelligence, digitalisation, smart technology, IoT and robots are revolutionising the energy industry. Appropriate cooperation models and in-depth knowledge of the legal, regulatory and economic framework conditions applicable to the power grid, industry and consumers – as well as public and private stakeholders – are crucial to success. Hjort is engaged in several innovative projects focused on smart energy, innovation and restructuring, and has the expertise to function as both a problem-solver and a strategic adviser.
Transactions and restructuring
Hjort has broad corporate experience, and our energy and corporate lawyers regularly advise on transactions in the energy sector. Where necessary, we also draw on our specialists in areas such as licensing law and competition law. We also advise renewable energy industry stakeholders on the new provisions of the Energy Act, which include a requirement for grid operations to be separated from other activities and a rule that grid operations may not be owned by entities engaged in the production or sale of electricity.
The deadline for compliance with the new provisions is 1 January 2021. Our general advice is to start reorganising now to secure a position in the changing marketplace, which will feature even fewer – but larger – grid companies.