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News in Brief, BB200709

Wind of change for offshore wind power in Germany

30.09.2007

Several European countries have developed offshore wind energy faster than Germany - a situation that is set to change in the near future.

On 6 September 2007, in Hamburg, Germanischer Lloyd Wind Energy (GL Wind), the international operating certification body for wind turbines, gathered together more than 240 leading figures in the offshore wind industry to discuss the future of offshore wind energy technology. 16 countries were represented which reflects a growing interest in the German offshore market.

With the aim of providing answers to unresolved questions about the use of offshore wind in Germany, the conference focused on 4 main themes:

Case studies – Feedback from current projects in Scotland (Beatrice project) and Germany (FINO 1 platform).

The connection – Panel of grid experts mediated by EWEA grid expert, Frans van Hulle. The session looked at the implications of the new grid regulation established in 2006.

The basics – Standards and guidelines.

The future – New developments in offshore wind energy.

An important step for the development of offshore wind energy was the identification of future sites for wind farms in the North and Baltic Seas in early 2000. Since then, 21 projects have been approved.

At the beginning of the decade, offshore development in Germany was expected to start by 2005. However, there are currently no offshore projects in German waters. One explanation is that the potential projects would all be located far from the coastline and in deeper waters, which is not the case in other European countries.

However, recent regulatory developments have provided a much-needed boost to the German wind industry. Debated at length in the panel discussion on the grid, new grid regulation, the “Infrastructure Planning Acceleration Act,” is clearly a milestone in the development of wind power. The panel members unanimously underlined its positive impact on wind project activity but highlighted remaining questions regarding grid infrastructure and management:

- Where should it go?
- What kind of transmission will it be?
- How will it be planned and regulated?
- Where and when does it need to be delivered?
- Can the impact of significant quantities of variable offshore wind on grids at either end of interconnecting cables be managed economically?

Besides new grid regulation, the German government is approaching the end of its discussion on a new payment mechanism, which should see a tariff increase to between 11 and 14 eurocents per kW/h.

These are clearly changes for the better and, just three months before the European offshore wind conference is due to take place, they are very pertinent. EWEA also supports the recent regulatory changes that Germany has implemented to advance offshore wind.

A domestic and largely untapped resource, offshore wind technology is key to achieving the EU goals related to energy, climate, Maritime Policies and the Lisbon Agenda. As a world leader in onshore wind technologies, Germany clearly understands the need to invest in offshore wind power, in order to achieve the EU target for renewables (20% of renewable energy to come from renewables by 2020) - a message which has also been sent to the rest of Europe.

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