22 Jan 2021, 14:10
Sören Amelang

German offshore wind industry concerned about 2021 construction pause

Clean Energy Wire / Tagesspiegel Background

The German offshore wind industry is bracing for difficult times ahead as no new constructions are planned this year and the timing of new projects remains unclear. "While the long-term framework conditions for the offshore wind industry have improved over the past year with the EU's 'Green Deal' and the German government's new long-term targets until 2040, the short-term situation of the industry remains challenging given the very weak domestic market," industry associations said. Last year, Germany raised its offshore wind power target to 20 gigawatts (GW) from 15 by 2030, and to 40 GW by 2040. But because of a pause in new auctions, construction is only set to pick up speed by the middle of the decade.

This year's hiatus is the first time since 2011 that no offshore capacity is being added in Germany, with the last auction taking place in 2018. Last year, only 32 offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 219 megawatts (MW) went into operation in Germany – all of them in the first half of the year. This corresponds to only 15 percent of the 2017 level. By the end of 2020, a total of 1,501 turbines with a combined capacity of 7.8 GW were in operation in German waters, making the country the world's second-largest offshore operator behind the United Kingdom.

"We deliver everywhere but to Germany," Pierre Bauer, chief financial officer of Siemens Gamesa's offshore division, said in energy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background, adding his company would not be viable with German orders alone. The company's plant for offshore turbines in Cuxhaven will exclusively supply foreign projects over the coming years, he said. Industry network WAB called for an additional auction to avoid bankruptcies, as many smaller supplier companies do not have the option to expand into export markets.

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