German offshore wind hits 520MW

Germany connected 240MW of new offshore wind capacity to its grid last year, all of it in the North Seam, lifting its total to 520MW.

Another 395MW in capacity were erected in 2013 at three wind park sites that still lack a grid connection, Deutsche WindGuard said in a study commissioned by the German wind energy federation BWE and engineering industry group VDMA Power Systems.

At the end of the year, eight offshore wind parks were in construction in German waters, while another one - the 108MW Riffgat farm - was already completed, but not grid-connected. Those nine wind farms together will have a capacity of 2.4GW once they are commissioned throughout 2014 and 2015.

Turbines grid-connected off Germany last year had an average capacity of 5MW, a rotor diameter of 126 metres, and a tower height of 90 metres, Deutsche WindGuard said.

BWE president Sylvia Pilarksy-Grosch said a pledge by Germany’s incoming coalition government to extend the so called “compression model” to offshore feed-in tariffs by two years through end-2019 has created planning security for investors and industry.

“With the decrease in support in the years 2018 and 2019 that has been announced in the outline (for a reform of Germany’s Renewable Energy Act, or EEG) of the energy ministry, this is being called into questions again,” however, she warned.

Energy minister Sigmar Gabriel in an outline for a reform of the renewable legislation had repeated the pledge to extend the compression model, but for the first time mentioned an additional subsidy cut in 2018 and 2019.

Gabriel during a speech at an energy conference in Berlin today repeatedly stressed that the Energiewende – Germany’s turnaround from nuclear toward renewable energy – needs to be affordable for industry and private households or otherwise risks losing its backing among the population.

"We are willing to push ahead in offshore wind energy, because we have a potential for industrial development and cost reduction,” he said.