Transmission capacity set to be left unused

GERMANY: The expansion plan for offshore wind energy over the coming years is not matching exactly with grid connection plans.

Between 600MW and 1,400MW of Germany's offshore transmission capacity could be left unused (pic: Siemens)
Between 600MW and 1,400MW of Germany's offshore transmission capacity could be left unused (pic: Siemens)

After the offshore auction in April 2018, 600-1,400MW of grid connection capacity may remain unused because of caps on offshore wind growth.

Nineteen projects that were fully permitted or at an advanced stage of permitting by the end of 2016 and that lie in coastal waters or in defined North Sea and Baltic Sea zones are eligible to participate in the auction.

A maximum 3,276MW of grid connection capacity may be available, double the 1.61GW of wind capacity available at the April auction. Theoretically, this indicates almost 1.7GW of connection capacity would remain unused.

However, some of the grid connection capacity will only be built if it is actually needed.

If for instance neither of the Nördlicher Grund and Nördlicher Grund-Sandbank projects — located in the same zone — were unsuccessful at the auction, construction of a 900MW grid link would be postponed.

Taking into account such constraints, the spare grid connection capacity likely to be unallocated after the April 2018 auction would probably be a potential maximum 1.4GW, with "the likely range some 600-1,000MW," according offshore wind energy working group AGOW, which represents 17 companies involved in the industry.

Adding new offshore wind capacity to that already planned for 2019 and 2020 is not feasible "due to the considerable upfront planning and logistics required," said Uwe Knickrehm, managing director of AGOW.

Exactly how much unused offshore grid connection capacity will exist will become clearer after the next offshore auction, at least 500MW of which must be located in the Baltic Sea, added Knickrehm.

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