Huge industrial investment in Norway

Norsk Hydro has announced that it plans to build a full-scale pilot plant for climate-friendly and energy-efficient production of aluminium at Karmøy.

The total investment is calculated to be around 4,3 Bill. NOK (about 450 mill. Euro). The Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, stated “This investment shows that the green shift is under way. I am delighted to be here in Karmøy and to be able to share this historic moment with Hydro’s employees’.

This is one of the biggest, industrial investments in mainland Norway for at least a decade. The aim is to reduce the energy consumption by 15% and to have the lowest carbon footprint in the world.

Invest in Norway sees this as another example of the will and capability to invest in traditional industry in Norway. We have abundance of 100% clean hydropower, we have long traditions in industrial development, high degree of automatization and in this example, also financial incentives. The state owned agency Enova has decided to support the project with 1,6 bill. NOK.

More about the project here.

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Invest in Norway in China

Picture: Knut Sørlie Country Director CHINA , Pang Song Managing director Fosun Group and Per Stensland Invest in Norway in an interesting discussion. Photo: Kristin Welle-Strand.

Picture: Knut Sørlie Country Director CHINA , Pang Song Managing director Fosun Group and Per Stensland Invest in Norway in an interesting discussion. Photo: Kristin Welle-Strand.

New information reveals that Chinese companies and investors have Norway on the map. In fact, the Chinese investment in Norway is bigger than in the other Scandinavian countries. Given the interest in China, Innovation Norway, Invest in Norway and the embassy just arranged a Chinese-Norwegian investment conference in Beijing.

Chinese outward investment

Estimates from international agencies suggest that China will be the world’s biggest outward investor within 2020, surpassing the US. To give you an understanding of the size; in 2013 China invested 107 bill. USD abroad, and the growth is expected to be at about 17% pr. year. So far, Chinese investors have established more than 25.000 companies abroad.

It is further a fact that China now is more and more about moving up the value chain and looking for investments options in high and green technologies, buying into established brand names, business know how and supply chains. This also means that Europe will be more and more on the agenda.

In Norway, about 5,45 bill. USD has been invested by Chinese, first and foremost through acquisitions of companies like Elkem, REC and Awilco, but also greenfields like Huawei.

Investment conference

In order to help Chinese companies and potential investors understand our economy, culture, social environment and relevant investment opportunities as well as strengthen the Norway‐China bilateral relationship, Innovation Norway, the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Invest in Norway hosted the 2nd Norway China Investment Conference on October 27, with about 130 participants. From the Norwegian side, Invest in Norway, Business Region Bergen and Oslo Medtech were some of the speakers, whereas huge Chinese companies like Alibaba and Fosun Group gave their view on the situation. During the conference, many interesting bilateral talks were held, to be followed up in the months to come.

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State budget with tax reduction proposals

The Government presented the state budget for 2016 yesterday. As for corporate taxation, the Government is proposing to reduce the corporate tax rate from 27 to 25 per cent. Further, they signalize a tax reform that reduces the corporate tax rate to 22 per cent by 2018.

There are also good news for data centers: The Government proposes an energy tax reduction for large datacenters, from NOK 0,1365/kWh to NOK 0,0048/kWh. This means that large datacenters will pay the same reduced rate as other energy intensive industries.  The new rate corresponds to about EUR 0,51/MWh. It will apply to datacenters requiring 5MW or more and take effect  from Jan 1st, 2016.

More information in English on the governmental website:

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Proposed changes in taxation of data centres in Norway. By Benedicte Fasmer Waaler

 

BFWaaler

 

In the revised national budget for 2015, presented on the 12th of May 2015, the Norwegian government proposed a reduction of the energy tax for large data centres, effective from the 1st of January 2016. They also signalled a reduction of the corporate income tax.

Energy tax

In the budget proposal the electricity tax for households and the service industries will be increased from 0,1365 NOK to 0,1415 NOK, while the reduced rate of 0,0045 NOK (which traditional industries pay) will stay the same. From the 1st of January 2016, data centres will also be charged the reduced rate.

The change will of course have to go through Parliament this fall. There is broad political consensus in the Parliament for such a reduction. No political parties have been against the reduction of the energy tax for data centres; several parties outside of the government included a reduction in their alternative budgets last year; and several environmental organisations have applauded the government’s actions.

Justifications and consensus

Norway has a surplus of renewable electricity and the environmentalists deem it wise to utilize parts of this surplus for more industrial consumption in Norway, because consumption of energy locally by industries producing services for the international market could replace the use of fossil-based electricity elsewhere, thereby reducing the amount of fossil-based electricity being used globally.

The conservative Government does not allude to such environmental benefits in their proposal, but rather to the competitiveness of the budding Norwegian data centre industry.

This dual justification, both environmental and financial, gives the issue such a broad political foundation. All parties agree that Norway has traditionally been a fossil fuel-driven economy and now needs greener industrial legs to stand on.

The road ahead – EU and definitions

Going forward, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries will work together to see whether the changes need to be notified to the proper authorities in the EU. If so, they will notify so that the change can take effect next year.

Norway, although not a member of the EU, is a member of the common market and follows all EU directives. Copying the Finnish model that the EU has already approved – allowing data centres with an energy consumption above 5 MW to pay the reduced rate currently applying to traditional industries – should greatly increase the likelihood of the new Norwegian tax policy being approved by the EU.

The proposal explicitly states that the energy tax for “large” data centres will be reduced to the reduced rate that industry is taxed with. However, the definition of large data centres needs to be specified.

Income tax – future reductions

The Government has also received a report suggesting that they reduce the income tax for corporations as well as individuals from 27 to 20 per cent. The government states in the revised budget that they will use this report as the foundation of their work on the matter. They have thus signalled a reduced tax without specifying the amount of the reduction or the timeline for such a reduction.

The tax report was commissioned by the former government. There is broad political consensus that a reduction should take place, but the level and rate of reduction are unclear.

Benedicte Fasmer Waaler is a Norwegian datacenter expert, working for Invest in Norway and ICT Norway

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Swedes by far the most important investors in Norway

Statistics Norway (SSB) har just recently published the inward- and outward investments for Norway for 2013. New guidelines for other capital than equity, makes it difficult to compare 2013 with other years. As mentioned, Sweden is the biggest investor country to Norway. However, when reading such statistics, one should always bear in mind that investments can com from subsidiaries, and the owner could be in a third country. Investigations we have made, shows that American capital is really underestimated in such statistics. According to the stat’s, the value of the Swedish investments is at 160 bill. NOK, about 15% of the total stock.

You can read more here: (http://www.ssb.no/en/utenriksokonomi/statistikker/di/aar/2015-01-14)

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Norway number 6 among 189

The annual publication Ease of Doing Business, from the Worl Bank Group, ranks Norway at place 6 among the 189 countries mapped. The ranking can be seen here: http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings

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Opening up for innovation opportunities in Norway

By Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive director, The Research Council of Norway

For companies in Norway and abroad, knowledge-based R&D is a key to improve their products and services. Innovation is crucial to achieve and maintain competitive advantage. As a national strategic and funding agency for research and innovation, the Research Council of Norway provides advisory and support for research and development activities. Funding is available to the private sector and research institutions alike.

In order to meet the varying needs of companies, the Research Council offers a wide range of activities for business, from start-up help to funding for more advanced research projects, commercialization of research findings, network-building and center schemes.

Normally, applicants from abroad need to have a formal affiliation with a Norwegian institution to apply for funding. However, some financing opportunities are specially designed for foreign researchers and partners.

Advisers at the Research Council have thorough knowledge and will assist you and follow up your research project to ensure that you derive the greatest possible benefit from support

“The Norwegian research and innovation system – statistics and indicators” recently published gives an overview of the status and development of research, innovation, science and technology. In many areas we have research groups which are world leaders, such as in clinical medicine, marine engineering, petroleum engineering, rheumatology, meteorology and atmospheric research (including climate research).

Industry in Norway is spread throughout the country with the strongest export regions located along the coast from Telemark County up to northwestern Møre and Romsdal County. These areas are home to dynamic institutions that are successful in the global competitive arena. Enhancing close cooperation between industry, research and regional partnership is a core task of the Research Council. Our regional representatives work to promote research and development with regional players in each of Norway’s 20 counties. They are located at the district offices of Innovation Norway and are ready to facilitate cooperation between your company and R&D institutions.

The Norwegian Government has in the beginning of October proposed to further increase public funding of research activity through funding to promote world-leading research, a knowledge-based and competitive industrial sector, and internationalization measures.

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