16 Jan 2023, 13:59
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany sees next weak offshore wind expansion year, industry urges “turbocharger” by 2025

Clean Energy Wire

With a rather low offshore wind power capacity expansion of 342 megawatts (MW) in 2022, Germany must quickly gear up to bring the buildout in line with its ambitious renewable power targets, wind power industry representatives have said. With a total capacity of just over 8 gigawatts (GW) installed at the end of 2022, building another 22 GW by 2030 is going to be a great challenge that needs to start taking shape soon, industry groups BWE, BWO and VDMA commented. A “turbocharger” is needed to boost expansion by 2025 and especially by 2027, BWE head Hermann Albers said, so that it’s able to come close to the 30 GW target by the end of the decade. “This year, we likely won’t get over last year’s expansion level – and will even likely stay below it,” Albers said. The industry is still reeling from the expansion collapse under the previous government, which caused layoffs and factory closures which have made a faster ramp-up more difficult. "The industry needs a steady expansion trajectory," the lobby group’s leader said. While the new government’s Offshore Wind Act already introduced some welcome changes, challenges like greater harbour and vessel capacity, and the availability of skilled staff remain, Albers said. Better coordination with other European countries in offshore wind expansion could improve industry prospects in Germany and help to use equipment more efficiently, as well as harmonise the procurement of certain input materials. Supply chain disruptions, raw material shortages and higher financing costs all add to the industry’s woes, said Albers. He added that a joint European answer could address these to form a solid response to the U.S.’s Inflation Reduction Act, which would intensify competition for energy transition investments.

About 1,540 turbines were in operation in the North Sea and Baltic Sea at the end of last year —only 38 of which were newly commissioned. Across Europe, 150 GW capacity is to be installed by 2030, which will require a fast and comprehensive buildout of industry capacities across the region. Given the challenges to supply security caused by the Russian war on Ukraine, a healthy offshore wind market that is governed by an industrial policy “seamlessly” focused on the energy transition will be essential, the head of offshore wind group BWO, Stefan Thimm, said. He argued the Offshore Wind Act should be amended urgently by allowing Contract for Difference (CfD) models that could greatly accelerate investment in the sector. Thimm confirmed that the government is working on a model for guaranteed lower industry electricity prices tied to offshore wind production, adding that the industry is “very open” to the idea.

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