A current installation lull in Germany’s offshore wind sector is forcing small- and medium sized companies out of the market, while the government in Berlin is not living up to its promises to hold special offshore wind tenders, the Windforce Conference is told.

The conference in the port city of Bremerhaven took place this week as a rare live event under strict hygiene conditions, and with a limited number of visitors, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We very much welcome the fact that the German government has raised the offshore wind expansion target for 2040 to 40GW," creating planning security for projects and companies, said Heike Winkler, managing director at wind industry association WAB, which has organised the event.

“However, companies can only benefit from this long-term perspective if they can survive the next five years with the low expansion volume in the German North and Baltic Seas and retain their qualified employees.”

After holding tenders in 2017 and 2018 for pre-approved offshore wind projects, Germany only next year will kick off regular, annual offshore wind auctions. Due to the time gap, new installations of wind at sea off Europe’s largest economy have slowed down to a mere 219MW during the first half of this year.

The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel so far hasn’t fulfilled its promise to hold additional offshore wind auctions for available areas that already have a grid connection, leaving those capacities unused in the next few years.

"These free capacities and quickly implementable projects in the coastal sea should now be put out to tender immediately in the form of smart immediate measures," Winkler said.

Olaf Lies, the environment minister of the coastal state of Lower Saxony, said the Windforce Conference was sending out an important signal to come up with measures that are consistent with Germany’s coal phase out and recently increased offshore wind targets.

“We need the special offshore tender as spelled out in the coalition agreement of the Federal Government now, because we cannot say to our qualified colleagues in the industry: 'Don't worry, in five years you will have your jobs back'", Lies said.

WAB chairwoman Irina Lucke at the conference also echoed industry demands to change a government proposal for an amendment of the country’s Wind at Sea Act (WindSeeG), rejecting Berlin’s plans to introduce a so-called “second bidding component” at offshore wind tenders, which if effect would come down to negative bidding.