Bremerhaven: from dying port to buzzing wind hub

» By | Published 01 May 2012

“I was born and studied in Bremerhaven, but when I left in 1996, there were no career opportunities there”, says Ronny Meyer.

BY the mid-1990s, the shipping and fishing industries that had traditionally dominated north-west Germany, where Bremerhaven is situated were dying, and there was felt to be no future.

“The unemployment rate was very high and anyone who had studied was leaving the city”, says Meyer.

Yet this was soon to change, as the local government had identified offshore wind energy as key to the economic development of the region.

It drew up a map identifying areas for offshore wind energy development. People from the economic development agency travelled around Europe talking to companies and showing them what was on offer.

Slowly, the sector began to take off. And today, Meyer estimates that over a third of all Germany’s 14,000 offshore wind energy jobs are situated in the north-west of Germany. He himself came back to his native city and is Managing Director of Windenergie-Agentur, the network for the region’s wind energy companies.

“When people really realised the true impact the offshore wind energy sector had had was in 2008 with the financial crisis”, says Meyer. “Almost every city in Germany saw its unemployment rate go up that year, but in Bremerhaven it was the opposite – the unemployment rate kept going down.”

Read more in the current issue of Wind Directions.