The zero-subsidy auction for the giant Hollandse Kust North (HKZ) ‘wind farm site 5’ will open as scheduled despite the recent pullout from the tender by sector heavy-weight Vattenfall, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO told Recharge.

The Swedish utility had cited uncertainties in relation to the pandemic, and a general fall in energy prices since the beginning of the outbreak, as reasons for dropping out of the race. Vattenfall had won tenders for the Hollandse Kust South 1 to 4 arrays that combined have a capacity of more than 1.5GW.

The 700MW HKN auction will open on 2 April, as planned, RVO spokesman Tom Hoven said. It is expected to close on 30 April, at 1700 central European time.

RVO, which runs renewables auctions under under the auspices of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in a newsletter two weeks ago had already said the tender will take place as it doesn’t see any impact from Covid-19 for the submission of proposals.

The Netherlands are one of the countries hardest hit by coronavirus in Europe, also as the government at first had tried a strategy of ‘herd immunity’, like in the UK. By 31 March, the country had suffered 1,175 deaths from the disease, with 13,696 reported cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data base.

HKN is the fifth consecutive zone to be auctioned off as part of a 3.5GW expansion plan that is slated to take the country’s cumulative capacity for wind at sea to 4.5GW by 2023.

After that, the Netherlands plan to build-out its offshore wind capacity even faster in order to reach 11.5GW by 2030.