The offshore wind industry in Germany, which is largely dominated by small and medium-sized companies, is facing a paradoxical situation: on the one hand, the industry is facing very good long-term prospects with the "European Green Deal", the German government's plans up to 2040 and the ambitious expansion plans in the UK and other markets. On the other hand, many small and medium-sized companies are being forced out of the market by political decisions due to the continuing expansion gap. For this reason, the wind industry association WAB used the stage of the 16th international Windforce Conference to remind the German government of its promise of a special tender for offshore wind.
"We very much welcome the fact that the German government has raised the offshore wind expansion target for 2040 to 40 GW," says WAB Managing Director Heike Winkler. This creates planning security for projects and companies, she adds. "However, companies can only benefit from this long-term perspective if they can survive the next five years with the low expansion volume in the German North and Baltic Seas and retain their qualified employees," says Winkler. "While there is a spirit of optimism in other markets due to technical progress and the lower electricity production costs of offshore wind, here in Germany we have a large number of insolvencies, migration and strategic realignments to complain about," says the WAB Managing Director. It is fatal for industrial policy that the German government has still not implemented its promise in the coalition agreement and intends to leave grid capacities in the North Sea unused in the next few years, thus weakening the domestic market for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises. "These free capacities and quickly implementable projects in the coastal sea should now be put out to tender immediately in the form of smart immediate measures," said Winkler.
"We need the special offshore tender as spelled out in the coalition agreement of the Federal Government now, because we cannot say to our qualified colleagues in the industry: 'Don't worry, in five years you will have your jobs back'", confirmed Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Olaf Lies. Following the coal phase-out and the agreement on targets for offshore wind, he said that the task now was to come up with consistent measures.
WAB Chairwoman Irina Lucke announced that there was a need for improvement for the upcoming amendment of the Wind Energy at Sea Act (WindSeeG). Like the overwhelming majority of the industry, she rejected the proposal of the Federal Ministry of Economics to introduce a "2nd bid component" (2. Gebotskomponente). This would have a negative impact on electricity generation costs and the probability of projects being realised and would further reduce the diversity of actors. Instead, the German government should rely on contracts for difference, she said.
WAB sees the national hydrogen strategy as a positive step. Its decision opens up further positive technical and economic prospects for the wind industry once the regulatory framework is in place. Several speakers emphasised the great demand for "green" hydrogen, including for the decarbonisation of industrial processes and for mobility.
Giles Dickson, CEO of the European wind energy association WindEurope, in his speech stressed the opportunities for the wind industry arising from the European Green Deal of the European Commission. However, the governments of the EU Member States had to be more ambitious in order to increase from the current 23 gigawatts of offshore wind in Europe to the planned 450GW by 2050. He also stressed the importance of cross-border cooperation in the planning and implementation of future offshore wind projects in Europe.
In his keynote address, Stephen Wyatt, Research Director of ORE Catapult, the UK's offshore wind innovation and research centre, also highlighted the benefits of collaborating in Europe to develop offshore wind energy - regardless of Brexit. The UK is the official partner country of the 16th WINDFORCE Conference this year. Germany and Great Britain are currently among the leading offshore wind markets: Currently, more than 80 percent of the offshore wind generation capacity in the North Sea is installed in German and British waters.