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European markets delay renewables auctions amid coronavirus crisis

Some European governments are postponing their renewable tenders as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Portugal further delayed its 700-MW solar auction, which was supposed to be held this April, pv magazine reported March 31. An earlier Reuters report indicated that the Portuguese government still hopes to conduct the qualification and bidding phases during the first six months of the year.

The solar auction is the second of its kind in Portugal. Originally scheduled in January, the second solar auction reportedly will allocate generation capacity in the southern regions of Alentejo and the Algarve and may also include energy storage.

The Portuguese government's first auction was in June 2019 for 1.4 GW of solar capacity. The oversubscribed auction resulted in an average price of €20/MWh, less than half of the €45/MWh starting price.

Despite the delay, the Portuguese government launched a portal for future solar auctions, according to a tweet by Energy Deputy Minister João Galamba.

READ MORE: Sign up for our weekly coronavirus newsletter here, and read our latest coverage on the crisis here.

France is also holding off future renewable tenders, Recharge reported April 2. The French government recently awarded another 1.7 GW of capacity, with onshore wind taking 749 MW at an average price of €69.2/MWh.

According to the report, the next onshore wind tender will be split in two. One-third will be handled by the original July 1 submission deadline, and the remainder by the new Nov. 1 deadline.

France is also extending commissioning deadlines for solar and wind projects beset by lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Germany had earlier granted the same extension to renewable developers.

In Ireland, the government is extending the application deadline for its first renewable electricity support scheme to April 30 from April 2 after unprecedented challenges experienced by applicants.

The renewable energy program will provide financial aid to local renewable energy projects and will support the country's 70% renewable electricity target by 2030. The auction qualification started March 9.

State-owned EirGrid PLC, which is tasked with implementing and operating the majority of the auction process for the renewables scheme, said it will issue a revised timetable to all parties no later than the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands still pushed through with its tender for the 700-MW Hollandse Kust North offshore wind zone.

But the winner for the previous auction, Vattenfall AB, backed out from participating in this recent edition due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Swedish power company will instead focus on electricity production and delivery of current projects.

The Dutch government will accept applications for the offshore wind tender until April 30.