TenneT Suggests Programme to Facilitate German Energy Transition
In November 2011, TenneT informed the German Federal Chancellery and the German federal ministries of economic affairs and the environment that the construction of connecting cables for offshore wind farms in the German part of the North Sea is no longer possible under current conditions.
The current structure is not suitable to accomplish the ambitions of the energy transition (Energiewende), which call for an increase in the share of renewable energy to at least 35% of electricity consumption in 2020. TenneT has therefore proposed a programme of necessary measures that will facilitate the energy transition.
The measures include a binding long-term offshore plan, the clarification of legal liability, and the creation of a German direct-current grid operator.
Binding long-term offshore plan
A long-term offshore development plan enables the best possible use of personnel, manufacturing capacity and capital. In the future, therefore, offshore connecting cables – like the onshore transmission grid – should be constructed on the basis of a 10-year offshore grid development plan. Early planning and standardisation of power connections, in particular, is key to high planning dependability for wind farm operators, authorities and grid operators. Furthermore, it is the only way to synchronise offshore projects with the necessary development of the onshore grid.
Clarification of legal liability
Offshore connections are still “new business”. Among other things, this means that the current legal situation regarding liability in case of non-availability of the connection or delays in delivery is disputed. This is why we need clarification by the legislature. The German regulator and the federal ministry recognise this. However, rapid introduction of new legislation is essential to prevent delays. TenneT proposes assigning priority to the establishment of property insurance coverage for non-availability of the offshore connection due to delayed production or the interruption of operations. Basically, the liability of the grid operator should be limited to an amount that can actually be serviced by the insurance market.
Creation of a German direct-current grid operator
The creation of offshore direct-current connections and the construction of large-scale direct-current connections in Germany require not only unprecedented use of capital, but also closely coordinated planning. TenneT is therefore proposing the creation of a German direct-current grid operator, the purpose of which will be to design new offshore direct-current connection cables and to plan, finance, build and operate the future German HVDC grid. TenneT is prepared to share its know-how and many years of experience in these areas with the new company.
The most important milestone of the energy transition is increasing the share of renewable energy to at least 35% of electricity consumption in 2020. This requires an installed capacity of approximately 11 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the North Sea. The connecting cables previously commissioned by TenneT already account for 5.3 gigawatts, equivalent to the consumption of five million households. By 2022, additional offshore power connections of 6 GW are planned. This development is only possible with changes in the structure, as suggested by TenneT.
Offshore Wind Staff, February 20, 2012; Image: britned