Sector urges swift action to reach German 20GW offshore wind goal

Wind groups also demand to set a 30-35GW target for wind at sea by 2035

The government needs to act swiftly to ensure a higher 2030 offshore wind target of 20GW as approved by the cabinet Wednesday can actually be achieved, German coastal states and wind groups urged.

The cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel in the wake of a climate protection package has raised the goal from 15GW previously envisaged, but so far has only stated that the new target can be met if agreements can be reached with coastal states and transmission system operators (TSOs).

Germany currently has 6.7GW in grid-connected offshore wind capacity.

After a meeting in Hanover Monday between coastal states, federal government representatives and wind groups, Olaf Lies, the environment minister of the state of Lower Saxony, said scenarios beyond 2030 and up to 2050 are needed after the 20GW target has been firmly set.

“We will fix this target legally in coming months,” Lies said, adding that a legal framework for the higher target must be created quickly, while planning agencies need to prepare for the necessary grid expansion.

To actually reach the 20GW in 2030, the government should quickly live up to its promise given in coalition talks last year for a “special contribution” of offshore wind capacity, wind groups WAB and the Offshore Wind Foundation said.

An extra 2GW in offshore wind could be realised quickly by using excess converter capacities in offshore wind grid connections at the DolWin6 cluster in the North Sea that is expected to be built completed in 2023, as well as by adding more capacity in the Baltic Sea at the recently permitted Gennaker project around 2024-25, the wind sector said.

But it is still unclear how Germany’s tendering scheme for offshore wind should be adapted to reach the additional 5GW by 2030.

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Andreas Wagner, managing director at the Offshore Wind Foundation, told Recharge a faster build-up of 1 to 1.5GW from 2025 onwards could be reached through a “significant rise in tendering volumes.”

The government so far had planned to auction off between 700 and 900MW (840MW on average) per year in offshore wind capacity from 2021 onwards for construction between 2025 and 2030.

Lower Saxony’s Lies said tenders for additional capacity should start in 2023 for a construction start of projects in 2027, in order to reach the higher offshore target.

35GW by 2035?

While state and federal governments are trying to find ways for making the higher 2030 target possible, wind groups stress the need to look beyond that horizon already now in order to reach German climate targets and end the stop-and-go order situation of the German offshore wind industry.

Wagner said at least 30GW should be targeted for 2035, which would boost the annual offshore wind expansion to 2GW after 2030.

WAB, which represents the wind industry in the country’s North-West, is demanding even more.

“Taking into consideration the development of new storage technologies and sector coupling, WAB together with the policymakers in [the state of] Bremen demand an offshore wind build-up path of 35GW by 2035,” WAB managing director Heike Winkler said.

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