Lithuania's Second Offshore Wind Auction Fails to Find Enough Bidders

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Published Apr 17, 2024 2:19 AM by The Maritime Executive


In a sign of challenging times for the Baltic States' renewable-power ambitions, Lithuania's second offshore wind tender failed to attract enough bidders and will have to be reworked, according to the nation's energy regulator. The government only received one bid, from state-owned utility Ignitis, and the auction terms required at least two bidders. 

"After consultations with market players, the tender will be relaunched as soon as possible," said Lithuanian energy minister Daniel Kreivys. "During these consultations we need to find out what specific conditions would maximize the attractiveness of the project and increase its resilience to market fluctuations."

Kreivys cited familiar problems for the lack of bidder interest, including lingering supply chain disruptions, high interest rates for all-important project financing, inflation in pricing for equipment and materials, and declining interest from bankers in lending for offshore wind. 

But Lithuania and its neighbors have another obstacle to development, one not found elsewhere in Europe - the "geopolitical situation in our region," Kreivys said. Due to their geography and history, the Baltics are at the top of the list of vulnerable nations in the event of a conflict between Russia and NATO. 

Russian political commentators with ties to the Kremlin have long signaled that the Baltics could be next after the invasion of Ukraine. In 2022, a former senior Russian officer laid out a possible war plan for the invasion of the Baltics on live television; Estonia predicts that Russia will test NATO's resolve in the region within three to four years. Even short of all-out war, Russian "hybrid-war" interference could cause problems for offshore wind developers.

Lithuania's first 700 MW offshore wind auction was held in 2023, and it also failed to attract much international interest - but not for geopolitical reasons. Insiders told Windpower Monthly that the terms of the auction were not attractive because there were no subsidies or power takeoff guarantees, making it uncompetitive compared to the arrangements in other markets. Only two bids were received, both low by international standards. The winner was a JV between Ignitis and Ocean Winds, and the project is moving forward.