German Offshore Wind Industry Criticises Defense Ministry for Smulders Yard Still Not Receiving Green Light

Having only one location in Europe for the manufacture of 2 GW offshore converter platforms can support neither German nor European offshore wind expansion ambitions, according to Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE (German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation), which says the yard that Belgian company Smulders is planning to set up in Rostock-Warnemünde would significantly contribute to boosting this capacity.

In this article:

  • Increasing targets and new markets in Europe call for more yards capable of building 2 GW platforms
  • Smulders wants to set up a yard in Rostock-Warnemünde, concerns over co-use with Army’s naval facilities hindering plans

The Foundation’s comments came as Amprion awarded Siemens Energy and Dragados Offshore with a EUR 4 billion contract for two 2 GW converter platforms for German grid connections, which will be built at Dragados Offshore’s shipyard in Cádiz, Spain. Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE said it was good news that it was possible to award this contract to a European consortium and a European location.

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However, having a single location in Europe that is capable of manufacturing 2 GW converter platforms cannot fully support expansion of offshore wind energy, which has a major role in energy transition both in Germany and in Europe, especially with the already massive competitive pressure for scarce production factors that will continue to increase in the future, according to the Foundation.

Here, Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE pointed out that in recent months there had been “intensive efforts” to create a production facility in Germany that also meets the conditions for building this kind of converter platforms: a yard that Smulders wants to set up in Rostock-Warnemünde.

Smulders’s Plans for a Yard in Rostock-Warnemünde Hindered Due to National Security Issues

The site in Rostock-Warnemünde, where Smulders wants to manufacture the 2 GW converters, is an optimal location where up to three platforms could be produced simultaneously, the Foundation says.

Establishing a fabrication yard there would involve co-use of a site, with the other user being the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr), which took over the site of MV Werften in August 2022, after the company went insolvent, according to German NDR.

The site, which the German Armed Forces officially launched on 11 January, will serve for repairing and decommissioning the German Navy’s vessels.

However, sharing the site with a private company has been an issue for the Ministry of Defense due to security concerns and due to the plan for the Navy’s need to use the entire site for its own needs, NDR wrote in December.

According to the local news site Der Warenmünder, in December, citizen representatives from the Rostocker Bund and Freie Wahler Rostock (Free Voters Rostock) started an online petition for the Smulders yard to move forward as, in their view, this would secure a future-oriented industry for Germany and bring added value to the country through foreign clients of the yard.

Looking at the contract Amprion just awarded, Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE said that the yard in Rostock-Warenmünde, which could have been established until now, has missed out on an order worth billions with the associated industrial, supplier and knowledge potential.

“There is great political support and substantial offers from the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania to the Federal Ministry of Defense in order to meet the needs of both national security and the energy transition. Based on the facts, it is completely incomprehensible that an agreement has not yet been reached, since the production concepts would enable a win-win situation, even taking into account the existing security policy requirements of the Federal Ministry of Defense”, Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE said.

“Looking ahead, we hope that today’s announcement once again impressively illustrates the opportunities that the energy transition can offer the German economy – and which Germany is ignoring here with its eyes wide open”.

The Foundation said that Smulders was still looking to realise a constructive cooperation at the Rostock-Warnemünde location.

Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE added that towards the end of the first quarter of this year, further large-volume orders will be awarded by the transmission system operator TenneT and, in addition to this, prospects for orders for grid connection systems across Europe and globally are more than promising.

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