Onshore developers warn against offshore support plans

SWEDEN: A group of Swedish onshore wind companies and landowners have warned against offshore wind being offered special treatment when the country's support system is reformed.

Vattenfall's 110MW Lillgrund offshore project, one of five operating projects in Sweden (pic: Siemens)
Vattenfall's 110MW Lillgrund offshore project, one of five operating projects in Sweden (pic: Siemens)

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The group, including onshore developer Arise AB, argued that a new, separate support system for offshore wind would be "expensive as well as unnecessary", adding that onshore wind is "by far the fastest and most cost-effective" option in transitioning to a non-fossil fuel economy.

Arise believed continued support for onshore would save more money, compared to supporting more expensive offshore projects through a proposed tender regime.

The group has called for Swedish policymakers to quickly decide on reform of the current renewable electricity certificate system and to raise the level of ambition in the decarbonisation of electricity supply.

Development of Sweden's offshore wind capacity has stalled in part due to the support system. Only E.on's 48MW Karehamn project has been added in recent years.

A number of projects are planned, though most are awaiting the introduction of a more favourable support regime.

The new Swedish government, elected late-2014, argued the offshore support system should be designed separately from the renewables certificate system and must be compatible with EU state aid rules. "Offshore wind costs are higher than for onshore wind, and so offshore wind is outside the scope of the objectives set for the certificate system," the energy ministry explained. The government believes, however, that there is plenty of potential to reduce offshore costs.

The European Wind Energy Association's wind energy scenarios for 2020, published in July 2014, predicted that Swedish commissioned offshore wind capacity will not budge from the 212MW in operation in 2013 up to 2020.

Onshore wind, on the other hand, was forecast to increase from 4.26GW in 2013 to between 5.5GW and 6.3GW, depending on scenario.

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