20 Jun 2022, 12:23
Edgar Meza

Security official concerned over Chinese involvement in German wind sector

Der Spiegel

Growing tensions between the West and China are leading to increasing concern over the role of Chinese companies in Germany’s energy sector, particularly in the wind power segment, Spiegel reports. A German security official has warned against the potential threat of Chinese companies involved in the monitoring and operating of wind farms and the supply of crucial components for wind power infrastructure. A consortium that includes two subsidiaries of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) recently won a contract to build the 980-megawatt Borwin 6 wind farm off the North Sea island of Borkum. A US firm, McDermott, is responsible for the platform construction, while the Chinese companies are providing the converters, including their electrical and computer technology. "It is negligent not to take systems like Borwin into account and make yourself vulnerable," said Holger Berens, head of the German Federal Association for the Protection of Critical Infrastructures (BSKI). "Such transformers can be monitored, intentionally overloaded or switched off."

The Federal Network Agency is set to have a list of critical energy sector components by May 2023. The Borwin 6 farm may not yet fall under German IT security laws that were recently tightened to restrict Chinese suppliers from the country’s 5G network. Grid operator Tennet has said the tender was carried out in accordance with EU procurement law and that there are no plans for government ministries to get involved. The growing concerns follow the announcement by China and Russia of plans to intensify their military cooperation. The 980-megawatt Borwin 6 is expected to supply around 1.2 million households with electricity from 2027 onwards.

A string of apparently targeted cyberattacks on German wind farmsearlier this year, possibly perpetrated by Russia, has led to worries that the country’s main future power source is not  sufficiently protected.

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