German Offshore Wind Supply Chain Facing Headwinds

The German offshore wind energy supply chain is under real pressure due to a lack of auctions and a disappointing perspective for future auction volumes to 2030, according to WindEurope.

The last German offshore wind auction was in April 2018 and no more are scheduled until 2021. This has lead to order books drying up within the supply chain and it’s unclear when and how they will be filled, WindEurope said.

According to WindEurope, Bremerhaven alone, once a vibrant industrial and innovation hub for offshore wind, has lost around 3,000-4,000 jobs in the offshore wind supply chain in the last three years.

Germany now has an opportunity to put the offshore wind back on track in its National Energy & Climate Plan for 2030. They currently envisage only 15GW total installations by 2030, whereas they could comfortably deliver 20GW and a higher volume by 2035, according to WindEurope. As things stand they are being less ambitious in relative terms on their offshore wind build-out than the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Poland.

Local politicians from Bremen have strongly criticised the German Federal Government for their lack of ambition and the damage this was doing to jobs and growth in the region. The TSO Amprion wondered whether Germany would have sufficient power generation capacity if they didn’t accelerate their build-out of offshore wind at a time when they’re closing nuclear and coal plants.

According to WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson, the wind industry will treat the National Energy Plans as investment brochures and invest in those countries that have the most ambitious plans.

A recently released WAB report states that there are currently 24,350 jobs in offshore wind in Germany in the supply chain and operation. 33% of these jobs are exclusively offshore wind. The other 67% also work in onshore wind or other sectors. The industry has a turnover of EUR 9.8bn.

The debate on Germany’s offshore wind target is taking place amid significant wider developments on the government’s approach to onshore wind, permitting and a Public Acceptance Working Group the government has created. The government is unlikely to agree on any changes to the offshore target until the onshore volumes and acceptance rules are settled, which may not be until next year, WindEurope said.

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