Germany's EnBW joins $4.2 bln Norwegian offshore wind farm project


By Nora Buli

OSLO, May 25 (Reuters) - German utility EnBW EBKG.DE has joined forces with Norwegian investors to participate in Norway's first offshore wind tender, expecting investment costs of up to 35 billion Norwegian crowns ($4.22 billion), the project consortium said on Tuesday.

EnBW owns 50% in the project company Norseman Wind set up specifically to bid for a 1.4 gigawatt (GW) wind farm spanning 400 square kilometres in the southern part of the Norwegian North Sea, said Harald Dirdal, a partner in Norseman Wind.

The Norwegian government has earmarked two areas in the North Sea for up to 4.5 gigawatts of floating and bottom-fixed wind turbine capacity.

The Norseman Wind project is being planned with bottom-fixed foundations to be delivered by Norway's Aker Solutions AKES.OL, the consortium said in a statement.

Norseman Wind's bid will not seek subsidies and the partners aimed to award 50% of the development contracts to Norwegian firms, helping to fulfil the government's ambition for kick-starting a domestic industry, they added.

Norwegian food retail and wholesaler Norgesgruppen has secured 0.4 GW of the wind farm's capacity, which would connect to Norway's onshore power grid, a move that could free up 1 terawatt hour (TWh) of capacity in the Norwegian power market.

"But we are also evaluating a hybrid model to connect the wind farm to other European markets," Dirdal told Reuters, highlighting Germany and Britain as two interesting markets.

However, discussions on such a hybrid grid solution were in the hands of transmission system operator Statnett, he added.

Norway will announce more tender details on June 11, the country's energy ministry has said, but has not yet revealed a date for when permits will be awarded.

Dirdal said he expected planning approval to take around five years, with the wind farm potentially in operation by the end of the decade.

($1 = 8.2990 Norwegian crowns)

(Editing by Terje Solsvik and David Evans)

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