Project delays feared due to cable shortfall

GERMANY: Transmission system operator TenneT has written to the German government agency that oversees electricity distribution warning that the construction of new grid connections for wind projects in German waters may no longer be possible at the present pace.

TenneT, which serves offshore wind developers in the Netherlands and Germany, said that recent developments in cable supply, financing and skills shortages have prompted its warning. In a statement, TenneT said: "We have already informed Germany's Federal Network Agency and the operators and developers of relevant wind farms and in close collaboration with the suppliers, TenneT aims to make every effort to ensure that the grid connections are completed as quickly as possible."

Construction hold up

The warning from TenneT is the latest example of a well-publicised, impending shortfall in HVDC cables that threatens to delay deployment of offshore wind farms in northern Europe. TenneT's letter was issued following news from its main contractors that construction work on platforms for the BorWin 2 and HelWin 1 projects will be delayed and that original terms for their commissioning will probably not be met.

The trade association for European cable suppliers Europacable emphasised that it has been responding to the needs of the offshore wind industry. Its secretary general Thomas Neeson pointed out that "since 2008 the cable industry has increased its production capacity in Europe alone by 40%".

"The cable industry is willing to continue investing in production facilities in Europe, including for submarine applications," added Neeson, but he warned that the sector needs "policymakers to provide a stable and reliable framework to accompany the industry's investments".

Windreich, a German group of companies involved in project development at more than 20 offshore projects in German North Sea waters, is more optimistic.

Windreich technical director Heiko Ross said it would continue with already agreed offshore grid projects. "Windreich's three approved offshore wind connection projects are not affected," he said. "The ordered grid connection capacity for offshore wind in Germany is approximately 5,000MW."