(Reuters) Seven groups of energy companies have sought pre-qualification for Norway’s first commercial offshore wind farm tender, the government said on Wednesday, while several others dropped out of the race as soaring costs dampened interest.
The tender offers the opportunity to build bottom-fixed wind turbines in the North Sea with a capacity of 1.5 gigawatts, in what Norway hopes will be the starting point for massive offshore power developments in the years leading up to 2040.
“Despite large cost increases for the global offshore wind industry recently, there are several strong players applying to be able to participate in the auction round,” Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland said in a statement.
The government will now evaluate the applications, he added.
If fewer than six applicants can be pre-qualified, the ministry will assess whether the subsequent auction should be carried out, the statement said.
Companies such as Equinor, RWE, BP, and Shell, were all involved in the tender as members of larger consortia.
Also among the companies seeking pre-qualification for the auction was Chinese wind turbine maker Mingyang Smart Energy.
Several other previously interested consortia announced they would not be participating, including groups led by Orsted, Vattenfall, and an affiliate of Eni.
Norway in 2020 opened the Soerlige Nordsjoe II area close to the Danish maritime border for offshore wind development.
However, it took time to set the criteria for the tender amid wrangling over grid connection and funding, with offshore wind development impacted by global supply chain cost increases and inflationary pressures.
In June, Norwegian lawmakers in June agreed to increase subsidies offered for Soerlige Nordsjoe II by 53% to 23 billion Norwegian crowns ($2.13 billion) but industry representatives and lobby groups still question whether this was sufficient.