In August 2019 the first wind turbines in one of Europe's largest land-based wind farms commenced operation.

The Kvitfjell and Raudfjell onshore wind farm (known as 'Project Northern Lights') was developed by German infrastructure developer Prime Capital AG near the city of Tromsø in northern Norway.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate granted Kvitfjell wind farm a concession in 2001, and the Ministry of Oil and Energy approved the final concession for Raudfjell Wind Farm in 2015.

The project comprises 67 turbines with an individual installed effect of 4.2MW and an aggregate installed effect of 281.4MW.

The project reached financial close in October 2017 and was the largest onshore renewable energy project in Europe at that time. Once finished, it will be the third-largest (in installed effect) wind power project in Europe.

Project structure

A new energy project contract structure was developed with Siemens Gamesa, which was primarily responsible for the wind farms' construction. Siemens Gamesa has since duplicated this structure for several other large wind farms which are under development.

First PPA to be backed by GIEK

Prime Capital negotiated a long-term power off-take agreement with leading global aluminium supplier Alcoa. This was the first Nordic corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) to have wind power as the energy source and an international industrial company as the off-taker. This has challenged hydropower producers' monopoly in the Norwegian PPA market and paved the road for several new corporate PPAs to be entered into with wind power as the energy source.

This was also the first time that a PPA was backed by a guarantee from the Export Credit Guarantee Agency (GIEK) with a rating of AAA. The long-term guarantee scheme was designed on behalf of the Ministry of Trade in 2009 and used for the first time in October 2017 in connection with Project Northern Lights. Several other projects have since adopted this approach and secured GIEK guarantees for their PPAs.

Change in concessions

In order for the wind farms to be realised, it was necessary to amend the concessions in order to change the access route to the project area. This was controversial, requiring communication with the Water Resources and Energy Directorate, the Ministry of Oil and Energy and the previous energy minister, Terje Søviknes. The matter was of national political interest, but Prime Capital obtained a successful outcome.

Construction of wind farms

The construction of the wind farms – or, more accurately, the internal roads – commenced in October 2017. Construction of the turbine transport commenced in July 2019.

Components of two turbines are transported to the site for interim storage before being assembled at the actual turbine locations.

The turbines, provided by Siemens Gamesa, use the latest technology, including direct drive and de-icing technology.

As of September 2019, five turbines were operating in the wind farm, delivering renewable energy to households in and near Tromsø.

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