Chinese firms excluded from tendering to work on key grid projects

answer to MPs questions, Financieele Dagblad

Wind farms in the North Sea near IJmuiden. Photo: Pixabay

Chinese companies are to be excluded from taking part in tenders to operate key parts of the national electricity grid because of the potential risk to national security, energy minister Rob Jetten has said in answer to MPs questions.

Changes in legislation governing electricity provision will ensure that grid operator Tennet, which is 100% state-owned, will be able to stop any participation in contracts by companies which are considered to be risky.

Last year, the economic affairs ministry halted the tender process for two major offshore grid connection projects because of the ‘potential security risk’, the Financieele Dagblad reported.

A Tennet spokesman told the paper that there was no question of intervention by the government. Tennet itself had asked for clarification about how to deal with Chinese firms tendering for parts of the infrastructure which are considered to be essential, the spokesman said.

‘The cabinet is well aware of the risks presented by possible undesirable interference in the European energy structure,’ Jetten told MPs. However, it is not the case that all Chinese products and services form a risk to national security by definition, he said.

Chinese firms do not have a large role in the Dutch grid, the FD said, but have bought shares in grid operators in Portugal, Greece and Italy.

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