German offshore wind industry demands action after expansion slows

Industry groups claim a recent lack of activity in the German offshore wind sector had led to job losses and company closures

Trianel Windpark Borkum II was commissioned in June 2020
Trianel Windpark Borkum II was commissioned in June 2020

Industry organisations have called for offshore wind capacity to be tendered as quickly as possible after no new turbines were installed in German waters in the second half of 2020.

Just 219MW of new offshore wind capacity was connected to the German grid in 2020 – all of it in the first half of the year, according to new figures from Deutsche Windguard.

No new offshore wind farms are currently under construction and no capacity additions are expected in 2021, the market analysts added.

Project construction is due to resume in 2022 with projects awarded in tenders in 2017 and 2018 coming online – enough to bring cumulative capacity to 10.8GW by 2025.

Germany is also due to begin tendering new capacity this year, with successful projects due to be commissioned from 2026 onwards, Deutsche Windguard noted.

But developers will need to commission successful projects “rapidly” if it is to meet its target of installing 20GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, industry groups warned.

The recent lack of offshore wind expansion has led to company closures, and job losses and migration from the German market, according to industry groups including German wind energy association BWE and the association of German offshore wind farm operators, BWO.

The groups, which also included engineering trade association VDMA Power Systems, offshore wind industry group WAB and the Offshore Windenergie Foundation, called for several changes to be implemented to accelerate commissioning and trigger new investments.

They called on the German government to:

  • Resolve possible spatial conflicts with shipping, marine and nature conservation, and enable sites to be used by more than one sector at once if possible;
  • Further develop the market framework for offshore wind energy and green hydrogen, including setting a specific and binding target for green hydrogen generation to make projects easier to plan, and expanding areas intended for green hydrogen production;
  • Legislate to use contracts for difference in tenders to enable the financing of offshore wind farms;
  • Set an offshore wind target for 2050 to coincide with the EU’s ambition for 300GW of offshore wind by mid-century.

In a joint statement, the groups said: “Moving ahead with investments now helps the economy and climate protection alike. Offshore wind power is essential as the foundation of the energy transition for German and European climate goals.”

Deutsche Windguard noted that for Germany to achieve its 20GW of offshore wind by 2030 target, all previously awarded capacity will need to be commissioned, plus 9.2GW of new capacity auctioned and brought online by the end of the decade.

Germany has already identified potential sites to support installation of this offshore wind capacity and confirmed the need to expand the country’s grid connection capacity.

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