Germany adds (only) 219 MW of offshore wind to its grid in 2020

Germany saw 32 offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 219 MW connected to the grid in 2020, with no new wind turbines erected in the second half of the year, according to the figures published by Deutsche WindGuard on 21 January.

In total, 1,501 offshore wind turbines with a capacity of 7,770 MW are feeding electricity into the German grid from the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

As reported earlier, total offshore wind generation in Germany in 2020 was 26.89 terawatt hours (TWh), an increase from the 24.16 TWh generated in 2019. However, this is a slight increase compared to the difference between total offshore wind generation in 2019 and 2018, whereby the 24.16 TWh in 2019 marked an increase of 26.5 per cent from 19.1TWh of electricity generated offshore in 2018.

No new plants could be built in the second half of 2020 due to the unfavourable political framework conditions, according to the industry organisations BWE, BWO, VDMA Power Systems, WAB and the OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE Foundation.

“While the long-term framework conditions for the offshore wind industry have improved over the past year with the EU’s ‘Green Deal’ and the German government’s new long-term targets until 2040, the short-term situation of the industry remains challenging with the very weak domestic market”, the organisations said.

The industry has called for the German government to put to tender the existing offshore wind potential as quickly as possible and to rapidly implement the Coastal Sea Regulation proposed by the industry, as well as to equalise the “expansion peak” in the years 2029 and 2030. More new capacity should be added before the end of the decade to ensure that the German government’s expansion target of 20 GW by 2030 can be achieved.

“Numerous companies in the offshore wind industry are not only confronted with the challenges of internationalisation and the Corona crisis, but also with the outlook that not a single offshore wind turbine will be installed in German waters next year – after expansion in 2020 was already only 15 percent of the 2017 level”, the wind industry organisations pointed out.

They invited the government to trigger a surge in investment now to secure the German offshore wind supply chain, saying that the industry has already warned about the serious consequences of the lack of wind energy expansion in the North and Baltic Seas, such as company closures, employment losses and migration from the German market.

“Bringing forward investments now helps the economy and climate protection in equal measure. Offshore wind power is essential as the foundation of the energy transition for German and European climate targets”, said the representatives of the industry associations.

In addition, the industry called for securing the offshore wind expansion targets in terms of spatial planning. In order to defuse conflicts of use to some extent, the EU Commission developed the co-use approach, for which the organisations say that it should be further developed and also increasingly applied in Germany.

Furthermore, the industry said that it was necessary to develop the market framework for offshore wind energy and “green” hydrogen further.

The next legislative period must be used to initiate a fundamental reform of the electricity market design and the refinancing of offshore wind projects, the organisations said, further adding that the introduction of contracts for difference should also be considered.

When it comes to green hydrogen, the industry said that it needed a market-based foundation, with CO2 pricing in the transport and heat sectors, and a simultaneous reduction or restructuring of the EEG levy and financial burdens through other levies and taxes being the steps in the right direction.

Moreover, the organisations urged for a concrete and binding volume target to produce green hydrogen from offshore wind energy, as well as for reliable procurement mechanisms, to allow for better planning of hydrogen projects.

Finally, the industry highlighted the EU’s plan to expand the installed offshore wind capacity to 300 GW by 2050 and the export potential that the target brings. The German industry organisations said that Germany also needs an expansion target for 2050 to secure the expansion targets in the long term and enable European planning.