30 Jan 2024, 13:12
Benjamin Wehrmann

German offshore wind expansion slowly picking up in 2023, must multiply soon to meet targets

Clean Energy Wire

The expansion of Germany’s offshore wind turbine fleet remained at a modest level in 2023, even if a slight improvement in construction activities offers hope for an accelerated buildout of the key energy transition technology in future. Merely 27 new turbines with a total capacity of 257 megawatts (MW) were added last year, while 74 new foundations laid in the same period paved the way for adding more installations swiftly, wind power industry group BWE said. However, given the country’s ambitious target of adding more than 21 gigawatt (GW) of capacity by 2030, expansion figures must be increased more than tenfold to an average of 3.1 GW in the coming years. “It is good to see that offshore wind expansion is slowly picking up speed again,” BWE said in a joint statement with offshore wind industry association BWO and engineering association VDMA Power Systems. Currently there are 1,566 turbines with a total capacity of 8.4 GW in operation in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and expansion currently is projected to exceed 700 MW in 2024. “But the expansion targets alone do not create the conditions for implementing them,” the industry groups warned.

In order to achieve the “significant” spike in expansion figures envisaged by the government, companies rely on targeted industrial policy measures that include financial support mechanisms and regulatory changes that spur investments. “Political targets have to become reliable awarded projects in auctions, and investment decisions,” the groups argued. Auction procedures included in Germany’s Offshore Wind Energy Act should be adapted to consider the effects of inflation and qualitative criteria that make the European wind industry more competitive and support the goals of the EU’s Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), which is currently being negotiated. “The auction design must be altered without delay,” the groups argued. Moreover, the industry representatives called for a ceiling on companies’ price offers at auctions to get access to designated sites, as this created pressure on industry to cut costs along the supply chain.

The offshore wind industry also grapples with uncertainties regarding future project implementation and the parallel expansion of grid infrastructure, processing capacities at ports and transport capacity on ships. The onshore grid’s low transmission capacity already caused offshore turbines in the North Sea to have about 9 percent of their annual output curtailed in 2023. The German government plans to have 30 GW of capacity running by 2030 and aims to bring total capacity to 70 GW by 2045.

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