UK policy fears spark German cable surge

UK: Uncertainty about UK energy policy has led to Germany's offshore wind pipeline accounting for 76% of offshore wind-farm-related cable orders.

Germany has the lion share of offshore cable orders

The UK government's review of its renewal obligation certificates (ROCs) incentive scheme — with a view to replacing it with a feed-in tariff by 2017 — has been blamed for creating uncertainty in the sector.

An analysis by technology and consultancy services company Enventi into power-cable installation in the offshore wind industry shows that out of 2,400 kilometres of offshore cables currently on order, only 13% — or 300km — relate to planned UK offshore developments.

Cabling earmarked for German projects amounts to 2,000km. Enventi says this shows the UK government’s energy market reform (EMR) is creating a delay between projects currently in construction and those already consented.

While Germany has just 700MW of offshore wind under construction, it has consent for 7.5GW. The UK has 1.7GW under construction but just 2GW consented.

Scott Macknocher Aberdeen-based Eventi’s general manager, suspects that similar patterns are probably occurring across the offshore supply chain.

He said: "Despite what the UK government has said about transitional measures protecting investment, it appears that uncertainty arising from EMR is preventing consented projects achieving financial close and proceeding to construction."

"Now is the time for the offshore supply chain to be developed," he added. "But this is not happening."

Enventi believes that in a tight supply chain this hiatus in the UK will be crucial in the race to install the next phase of offshore wind farms in the North Sea.  

"Germany is already well advanced in the installation of an integrated HVDC network that will allow clusters of offshore wind farms to be developed," said Macknocker. "It is likely that this groundwork will allow Germany to surpass the UK as the world leader in installed offshore wind capacity sometime between 2015 and 2020."

Apart from Germany and the UK, the remaining 11% of the offshore cable market, which is dominated by market leader ABB, is taken up by Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium.

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