13 Mar 2024, 13:29
Benjamin Wehrmann

Offshore wind power generation could require use of up to one quarter of Germany’s maritime zone

dpa / Süddeutsche Zeitung / Clean Energy Wire

The planned offshore wind power expansion could affect up to one quarter of Germany’s exclusive economic zone in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, said the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in an article by news agency dpa published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The spatial demand in both seas would likely amount to 20 to 25 percent, the agency said. “The energy transition changes the use of the sea in a way that’s never been seen before,” said BSH head Helge Heegewaldt. However, offshore wind would remain an indispensable building block for the energy transition, Heegewaldt added. About 8 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power capacity are currently installed in the exclusive economic zone and current plans envisage bringing capacity to 30 GW by 2030 and to 70 GW by 2045, the year by which Germany aims to become climate neutral. Germany’s exclusive economic zone covers about 33,000 square kilometres. Roughly 1,500 offshore turbines are currently installed. While expansion stalled in the past years, reaching merely 0.2 GW in 2023, there are currently four new wind farms with a capacity of 2.5 GW under construction. The number of turbines would have to increase to about 13,000 to meet the goals announced by the government. “One must not forget that a wind farm consists of individual turbines that are built at a distance of 800 to 1,000 metres from each other,” said Nico Nolte, BSH department leader for organisational matters at sea. He said the increased area use for offshore wind generation would not come at the expense of environmental protection. “We won’t lower any standards,” Nolte insisted.

At its annual press conference, the BSH stressed that global warming posed the greatest challenge to the ecosystems of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and that rising tides and increasing extreme weather events also threaten human safety on Germany’s coasts. The Baltic Sea had marked the highest water levels in 150 years in 2023 and the number of storm tides in the North Sea had increased fourfold above the average in recent months, the agency said. September 2023 had been the warmest ever since BSH measures started in 1969. Both seas had been warmer than the average for 1991 to 2020 for eleven years in a row, the agency added.

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