10 Jun 2024, 13:32
Sören Amelang

Germany must focus on jobs and environment in offshore wind rollout – NGOs, unions

Clean Energy Wire

Germany must pay more attention to social and environmental impacts in its ambitious rollout of offshore wind energy, environmental NGOs and unions have said. “The protection of nature, species and jobs has hardly played a role” in the allocation of marine areas for wind power development, the organisations said in a press release. “The tender design favours the allocation of areas to a few giant companies and higher electricity prices, jeopardising existing jobs,” they said. Environmental organisation DNR, trade union group DGB and the metalworkers union IG Metall warned in a letter to the climate and economy ministry that the current tender design resulted in negative consequences.

“In 2023, offshore wind energy areas were auctioned off for a total of 13.4 billion euros. Due to the prevailing highest bidder principle, two financially strong companies paid the lion's share,” the organisations said, warning this pattern could be repeated this year. “The high land prices increase the cost pressure on the supply chain, industry and employees, and favour unnecessarily high offshore electricity prices.” The organisations said the tender design should be amended to shift an almost exclusive focus on price criteria to include the environmental aspects of circularity, sustainable shipping, and nature-inclusive design, as well as good working conditions, “a resilient industrial transformation”, and sustainable education and training. “The offshore auctions must not only be about money, but also about better labour, more added value and more environmental protection,” said IG Metall’s Daniel Friedrich. “The German government must set criteria for the tenders that prevent predatory competition and help to keep a wind industry with good, collectively agreed jobs in Germany and Europe.”

Germany had 1,566 turbines with a total capacity of 8.4 GW in operation in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea at the beginning of the year. The expansion rate must pick up rapidly as the country plans to have 30 GW of offshore capacity running by 2030, and aims to bring total capacity to 70 GW by 2045. The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) at the end of last week announced that spatial planning for the expansion of offshore wind had been sped up to allow the installation of up to 60 GW capacity by 2037.  A faster expansion had been made possible by temporarily relaxed EU regulation regarding environmental impact assessments and other bureaucratic obstacles, the BSH said.

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