Multiple bids submitted for subsidy-free wind farm - Dutch government

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Several companies have bid to build a subsidy-free wind farm in the Dutch part of the North Sea, the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs said on Thursday without providing further details.

In the world’s first ever so-called ‘zero subsidy’ tender for wind power, companies had until Thursday to hand in bids that require no government support for two 350 megawatt (MW) slots available in the North Sea.

The winner is expected to be announced in March, ministry spokesman Caspar Itz said. He did not say which companies, or how many, had made bids. So far, only Swedish energy company Vattenfall and Norway's Statoil STL.OL have said they participated.

The Dutch tender follows strong demand at wind farm auctions in Germany earlier this year - where some slots were granted without subsidies.

At two previous auctions in the Netherlands’ last year for offshore wind power, subsidies granted fell sharply. This was the result of a combination of surging demand for wind energy, low interest rates, technological progress and competition among turbine makers which made it considerably cheaper to build wind farms.

The current tender is the third in a series of five held by the Dutch, as they aim to build offshore wind farms in the next six years with a total capacity of 3,500 MW.

The first two projects, for 700 MW each, were awarded in 2016 to Danish energy company Orsted ORSTED.CO and a consortium including Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L and Dutch energy provider Eneco.

Reporting by Bart Meijer. Editing by Jane Merriman