German gov't proposes "binding" offshore network plan

Strategy to overcome cabling delays

Germany's federal economy and environment ministries today announced the principles that will form the basis for a new law designed to speed up the development of offshore wind stations.

The focus of this joint initiative is to overcome currently-crippling delays in network connections and uncertainties about export cable risk liabilities. A draft law is due to be presented "in the summer" and to be passed by parliament "within a short period".

The two ministries propose establishing a binding offshore network development plan (ONDP) to ensure better co-ordination between construction of offshore wind stations and installation of export cables to shore.

Click here to find out more!The inability of transmission system operator (TSO), TenneT - which is responsible for North Sea cable infrastructure - to keep pace with the demands of offshore wind construction risks undermining the financial viability of many German offshore wind projects (Windpower Offshore 28-Jun-12).

The potential financial losses facing offshore wind developers, if newly-constructed projects are left stranded, are so large that the issue has raced up the national political agenda. RWE’s Nordee Ost project is a high-profile victim of TenneT’s tardiness, however, other projects, including Meerwind, are affected (Windpower Offshore 26-Jun-12).

The ONDP will cover offshore developments over several years, setting out the site and size for offshore station network connections to ensure these are co-ordinated with expansion of Germany's onshore network expansion, the joint ministerial statement says.

New compensation rules
The new plan is to be linked to newly-proposed rules on offshore cable liability (Windpower Offshore 06-Jun-12). The proposed arrangements foresees that in case of delays in cable connection completion, or cable outages lasting 11 days or longer, an operational offshore station will be entitled to compensation amounting to 90% of the lost feed-in tariff payments. If feed-in of electricity is prevented due to a series of smaller problems for 18 days in a single calendar year, the operator has the same entitlement from the 19th day. Similarly, compensation is payable if cable operation is interrupted for maintenance for more than 10 days per year.

In calculating compensation it will be assumed that the offshore station generates 11kWh per kW installed capacity each day of the interruption, the statement says. The costs are to be carried by the TSO, which can roll these over onto electricity consumers via a new "liability levy."

However, if the cable is out of action for more than 90 days, the TSO can only roll over costs to consumers "if it has undertaken all possible and reasonable measures to reduce and eliminate the problem".

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