No German state has created more jobs in the offshore wind industry than the inland state of Baden-Württemberg, and an expected slump in the sector will hit workers across the country, according to a study commissioned by wind group WAB.
With 4,455 offshore wind jobs, the south-western state leads a ranking of Germany’s 16 states, the Trend Research institute said in a report of its Wind Research unit on “value creation in offshore wind energy in Germany,” adding that a third of the country’s 24,350 employees working in the sector come from the three southern states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse.
“This shows that federal states far from the coastline also benefit from the steady expansion of offshore wind energy and from a long-term perspective for this technology. That should also be reflected in the political support for ambitious expansion goals,” WAB managing director Heike Winkler said, presenting the results of the report in Stuttgart, the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg.
In the most pessimistic case, more than 8,000 jobs may be lost in the offshore wind industry, WAB and other wind groups warn.
In the next two to three years, the wind power expansion in German waters will be significantly below average due to a slump in orders caused by a gap in the offshore wind tendering schedule that threatens jobs and can lead companies to move abroad.
“The wind industry in Germany needs reliable political framework conditions to justify long-term investments to maintain its technology and innovation leadership,” said Matthias Zelinger, managing director of VDMA Power Systems, a group representing wind turbine manufacturers.
“If there is a lack of a sizeable market, continuous expansion and economic perspective, we will also see a trend in the supply chain towards production in more attractive markets.”
To avoid the worst, the government should create the legal preconditions for a special tender for offshore wind promised in a coalition agreement in 2019, the wind groups demand.
Up to 2GW of additional capacity for offshore wind are not only technically and economically feasible, but also required from an industrial policy perspective, they argue. Without this additional tender, grid connection capacities will not be used for several years.
Also, Berlin should give a longer-term perspective for the wind industry, Winkler underlined.
“The 20GW planned by the federal government by 2030 without a perspective for the period up to and after 2035 are not sufficient,” she said, adding that Germany will be able to unlock a potential of 57GW gigawatts of offshore wind in the German North and Baltic Seas, while interest in ‘green’ hydrogen is increasing.
“That is why we are calling for the 2GW special tender immediately and for 35GW by 2035.”
The employees in the offshore wind sector in Baden-Württemberg primarily work in engineering as well as in research and development.
But the state is also home to utility EnBW, which has become one of Europe's largest operators of offshore wind, with arrays up and running in both the North and Baltic Seas.
“Renewable energies in general and offshore wind energy in particular are the focus of entrepreneurial action at EnBW," said Dirk Güsewell, head of generation portfolio development at EnBW.
“Only recently the EnBW Hohe See and Albatros offshore wind farms went into operation. Together they are the largest offshore wind project in Germany with a capacity of 609MW. And EnBW He Dreiht, the follow-up project with an output of 900MW, is already being worked intensively on.”
During the construction of EnBW's latest offshore wind farms, more than 600 employees worked and lived on the large construction site in the North Sea. More than 80 vessels were deployed.
In October, Berlin’s new climate legislation tacitly shifted the nation's renewable energy policy away from onshore wind, and towards wind at sea and solar PV as the main engines of the country’s future renewable energy ambitions.