Germany Facing Offshore Wind Grid Expansion Delays
Three of the planned new offshore grid connection systems in the German North Sea, which will connect to four offshore wind sites to be tendered this year and in 2026, will be delayed by up to two years, according to a letter that the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) sent to the Federal Network Agency on 26 January.
The reasons for the expected delays in offshore grid expansion are said to include supply chain bottlenecks.
The offshore grids whose commissioning date has been pushed back are NOR-9-1, NOR-9-2, and NOR 11-2. These will connect the offshore wind farms in the areas N-9.1, N-9.2 and N-11.2, as well as the area N-13.1 to the German grid.
The German government has just launched a tender for two sites, including N-11.2, and the areas N-9.1 and N-9.2 will also be offered to developers this year, while the area N-13.1 is planned to be auctioned in 2026.
For the wind farms in the two areas now being out on tender, the Federal Network Agency said they were scheduled to go into operation in 2031.
This is in line with the new commissioning timelines for the three offshore grid connections expected by the BSH.
While the commissioning of the NOR-11-2 offshore grid, which will connect the offshore wind farms at the soon-to-be-awarded N-11.2, as well as the N-13.1 area, has only been pushed to the next quarter of 2031 (now planned in Q4 instead of Q3) – the grid connections for the two areas that will be auctioned later this year are now expected to come online two years later, in 2031 instead of 2029.
Following the BSH sending the update to the Federal Network Agency, the German industry organisation BWO (Bundesverband Windenergie Offshore/Federal Association of Offshore Wind Energy) issued a statement saying that this puts the expansion targets for offshore wind energy at risk.
“Grid connection projects have long lead times. It is therefore good that we can talk about potential bottlenecks with six years’ warning time. The construction of grid connections and offshore wind farms must be well coordinated. The supply chain now needs to be able to invest in the expansion of offshore wind. Therefore it needs industrial policy signals of reliability and commitment,” said BWO Managing Director Stefan Thimm.
The BWO says it interprets the BSH’s statement as an early warning to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) and that “all levers must now be set in motion”, including examining global procurement options to avert the possible delay in reaching offshore wind expansion targets, as well as assessing whether other grid connection projects can be accelerated.
“With the recent introduction of the ‘transformation component’, the German government has created an ideal instrument to use the revenue from offshore wind auctions to make a sustainable contribution to supporting the energy transition and decarbonising the economy,” Stefan Thimm added.
“However, the 2023 revenue is to be used to finance agricultural subsidies. In future, the German government should use them to eliminate bottlenecks in the value chain with industrial policy means. The opportunities are enormous. According to expert calculations, more than one trillion euros in investment will be required to realise the European targets for offshore wind.”
“Added to this are the positive effects on value creation and employment through operation over decades. It cannot be taken for granted that these investments will also be made in Germany. The aim is to create the conditions for the highest possible proportion of value added to be generated in Germany,” said the BWO Managing Director.
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