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German H1 offshore wind additions plunge from 1.77GW to 258MW

German grid-connected offshore wind additions plummeted by 85% in the first half of 2016.

Turbines with a capacity of 258MW were connected in the opening six months, down from 1.77GW in H1 2015, when catch-up effects had swelled figures.

The new capacity, all in the North Sea, takes Germany's accumulated offshore capacity to 3.55GW.

The figures were published by Deutsche WindGuard and commissioned by the Working Group for Offshore Wind Energy, the German Wind Energy Association, the German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation, VDMA Power Systems and the German Wind Energy Agency.

For the full year, the wind groups expect 700MW to be grid-connected, down from a record 2.38GW in 2015. Last year was exceptional, as 1.34GW had already been installed in 2014, but could only be commissioned in 2015 due to previously lacking offshore grid connections.

But while this year's reduction represents a normalisation, the wind sector warns that a more permanent slowdown of the offshore build-up in the early 2020s as a result of reform of Germany's Renewable Energies Act, EEG, will harm the industry.

"With the recently approved EEG, the offshore wind industry in Germany is entering rough seas," the five wind groups say. "Low tendering volumes will cost Germany as [an industry] location dear and cost jobs."

With a much smaller home market, the 20,000 jobs in the country's offshore sector cannot be maintained, the groups warn.

Due to expected grid bottlenecks, the government tweaked annual offshore expansion targets and now wants to allow 3.1GW in additional capacity to be added from 2021 to 2025 — up from 2.92GW previously planned for 2021-24.

But the foreseen volume of 500MW each in 2021 and 2022 is much lower than the annual 700MW in the Netherlands, the wind groups point out, calling the capped German expansion volumes absurd and expensive at a time when turbine and wind park sizes are on the increase.

Instead of slowing the offshore build-up, the government should speed up the expansion of the high-voltage transmission grid, they say.

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