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11 Sep 2019, 13:53
Benjamin Wehrmann

Coal exit compels Germany to raise offshore wind power expansion plans – industry study

Clean Energy Wire

The German coal exit can only be carried out safely if the country raises its current offshore wind power expansion plans, a meta-study commissioned by offshore industry association BWO has found. The study, published by energy consultancy Enervis, determined that for every gigawatt (GW) of coal power capacity that is taken off the grid, 0.3 to 0.4 GW of offshore wind power capacity will need to be added on average during the country’s coal phaseout.

This means that the expansion goal for offshore wind has to be increased to at least 18.8 GW by 2030, substantially more than the 15 GW currently planned. "Without lifting the expansion cap, at least one of the 2030 climate targets cannot be achieved – either the target of a 65 percent share of renewables in electricity consumption or the reduction of greenhouse gases by 55 percent compared to 1990 levels," the study said. The results did not account for the substantial drop in onshore wind power expansion Germany has seen in the first half of 2019, Enervis said, adding that this would further increase the need to ramp up offshore expansion. As part of its analysis, Enervis weighed the results of six previous studies on power demand and renewables expansion.

Offshore wind power turbines on average have a much greater output than onshore turbines thanks to stronger and more constant winds at sea. Moreover, they enjoy much greater acceptance than land-borne turbines, the construction of which is very often blocked due to lawsuits by local residents and other interest groups. However, offshore turbines on average are much more costly to construct than onshore installations and are criticised for posing a danger to sea birds, whales and other marine species. Germany's economy and energy minister, Peter Altmaier, recently signalled that he would be ready to raise the offshore wind power expansion goal to 20 GW as onshore wind expansion is at risk of falling far behind desired expansion levels.

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