Despite an apparent slowing in offshore wind development in Europe during 2014 – at least during the first part of the year, according to the last available European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) figures – Germany’s offshore wind capacity is increasing exponentially.
According to figures compiled by Deutsche WindGuard on behalf of VDMA Power Systems, the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), the Wind Energy Agency (WAB) and the German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation (SOW), during 2014 142 offshore wind turbines providing a capacity of 528.9MW were newly connected to the grid. This represents both a more than a doubling of the capacity increase of the previous year as well as of the total capacity. By the end of the year it brought to a total 258 offshore wind turbines in the German North and Baltic Seas with a combined capacity of 1,049.2MW fed into the grid.
Further doubling in German offshore wind in 2015
A further factor of two increase is in sight for the current year. In addition to the grid-connected offshore wind turbines, a further 268 turbines with a capacity of 1,218.1MW were completed in 2014, but had not been fully grid-connected by the end of the year. This brought the cumulative capacity of the 285 offshore turbines installed by the end of 2014 but not hooked up to the grid to 1,303.1MW. And another 220 foundations had been put in position.
“Out at sea we have now officially broken through the gigawatt barrier for installed capacity,” says Norbert Giese, chairman of the VDMA steering committee for the offshore wind industry and board member of SOW. “In 2015 we are expecting up to 2GW of offshore wind capacity to be newly connected to the grid. By the end of 2015, we will see a total of some 3GW installed capacity online, which corresponds to an investment of €10 billion in the domestic market of the German offshore wind industry.”
German Renewable Energy Sources Act
This increase in Germany’s offshore wind capacity can be attributed to changes in Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz, EEG), says Dr Klaus Meier, chairman of the board of WAB.
“The EEG 2014 has established the framework for the scheduled expansion of the offshore wind industry, paving the way for more added value in Germany, an increase in exports, and securing jobs throughout the decade until 2020,” he says. “In addition to the future EEG 3.0, it is essential that sufficient grid capacity is provided now for the period starting in 2021.”
EEG 2014 set targets of 45% renewables by 2025 and 60% by 2035. Offshore wind would contribute 6,500MW by 2020 and 15,000MW by 2030.
Germany’s offshore wind industry
Hermann Albers, president of BWE, comments that with these developments, the German offshore wind industry is now well positioned in the international market.
“The figures show that, despite all the past challenges, we have achieved a stable growth of offshore wind capacity,” he says. “The offshore technology, which has great potential for realizing the energy transition and ensuring security of supply in Germany, is on the edge of a decisive breakthrough.”
According to EWEA’ last annual offshore wind survey for 2013, Siemens was the lead offshore turbine supplier with 60% of the total installed capacity. In particular, the dominance of Siemens’ 3.6MW turbine is why the average capacity of Europe’s offshore turbines remains around the 4MW mark. In second place, Vestas held 23% of the total installed capacity at the end of 2013.
Europe’s offshore wind
EWEA’s 2013 survey found a total of 2,080 wind turbines in 69 offshore farms with a cumulative installed capacity of 6,562MW and the ability to supply 0.7% of Europe’s total electricity consumption.
At that time, the UK held 56% of the installed capacity (3,681MW), followed by Denmark with 19% (1,271MW), Belgium with 9% (571MW) and Germany with 8% (520MW).
In the survey for the first half of 2014, EWEA found 224 offshore turbines with a capacity of 781MW were connected to the grid, which was down 25% on the same period in 2013. The full 2014 survey, which is expected to be published shortly, is awaited with interest to shed more light on the market and activities over the past year.
As for Germany, Albers concludes: “We are convinced that 2015 will be the year of the Energiewende, the energy transition. The sector and the whole industry, as well as the federal states are ready to go.”