German Operating Offshore Wind Capacity Tops 7.5GW Mark

160 turbines with a capacity of 1,111MW were connected to the German grid in 2019, figures compiled by Deutsche WindGuard show.

Northland Power/Illustration

As of the end of 2019, a total of 1,469 offshore wind turbines with a capacity of 7,516MW has been feeding electricity into the German grid.

“At the beginning of offshore development in Germany in 2010, only 12 turbines with a capacity of 60 MW supplied clean electricity from the ‘alpha ventus’ test field. Ten years later, there are around 1,500 turbines with a capacity of over 7.5 GW. Electricity from offshore wind energy is cost-efficient, consistently reliable and competitive. Offshore wind energy has developed from Germany into an international success story,” the industry representatives said.

The representatives have once again urged the federal government to increase the 2030 offshore wind expansion target to at least 20GW, and to establish an expansion strategy beyond that.

“To achieve this, the federal government must quickly create the legal basis and, in the first step, allocate free capacities of up to 2 GW to cushion the consequences of the expansion gap for the domestic industry. Only in this way can the domestic supply chain be maintained and earlier successes, such as the 2 GW expansion in 2015, be achieved again,” the industry representatives said.

The industry representatives of BWE, BWO, Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE, VDMA Power Systems and WAB further added: “Any further loss of time leads to additional job losses and endangers the international competitiveness of German companies. The know-how acquired in the offshore wind industry over the last decade is an important competitive edge in international competition that must be maintained. We still need a strong domestic market in order to remain successful in the constantly growing world market.”

Due to the long project cycles of offshore wind farms, long-term planning security is of great importance, so that the expansion of offshore wind energy up to 2035 and 2050 must be planned now, the industry representatives explained. Otherwise, there is a risk of bottlenecks and time distortions.

According to industry representatives, offshore wind capacity of 30-35GW will be required by 2035, and this will have to rise to over 50GW by 2050.

“With appropriate signals, Germany can present itself as a credible pioneer in climate protection, also against the background of its EU Council Presidency this year. Initiatives for a stronger networking of the North Sea countries in a joint offshore grid planning would also contribute to this,” said the industry representatives.

The importance of large-scale coordinated offshore wind development in Europe has also been highlighted by the European Commission with its policy approach of the European Green Deal. For example, the EU considers it necessary to expand offshore wind energy to 450GW by 2050 in order to achieve climate neutrality within the EU by 2050.

Germany should also promote these issues during its current chairmanship of the North Seas Energy Cooperation. The cooperation aims to promote the coordinated expansion of offshore wind in Europe in order to achieve cost advantages and energy efficiency gains.

There must also be a further development of the support system in the near future, the representatives said. For example, according to the current legal situation, the zero-cent bids of the last tender round are the maximum price of all future tenders. This means that there is no possibility of differentiating future bids. In addition, the economic viability of some wind farms is no longer assured due to various factors, such as the increasing distance to the mainland. The necessary reform of the subsidy system would relieve electricity consumers in the high three-digit million range.

The industry also believes that an effective CO2 price is necessary with the aim of making the actual cost advantages of climate-neutral generation capacities visible. The initiated CO2 pricing in the transport and heating sectors is, therefore, the first important step towards creating a market for “green” hydrogen generated by renewable electricity. According to the representatives, offshore wind energy can significantly support the German government’s national hydrogen strategy.