Offshore Wind Energy in Germany

The challenge of climate change, in addition to constantly rising energy costs with increasing scarcity of fossil-fuel resources, has led to a new way of thinking, not only in Germany but globally. At the same time, security of supply and energy independence is becoming more and more important. The German government is meeting these new challenges with the ‘Renewable Energy Act’ (REA), amongst other initiatives. In the latest revision of the REA in 2008, the government set a target of at least 30% renewables in electricity supply by 2020, with wind energy being a major contributor.

By 2030, a total of 20,000 to 25,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity are being planned in German North Sea and Baltic Sea waters, according to the government’s ‘offshore strategy’ of 2002.  Annual energy yield is expected to climb to 85-100 Terawatt-hours (TWh), which would equal 15% of German electricity consumption.

There are many overall economic benefits of offshore wind energy use, such as:

  • Innovation and technological progress;
  • Creation of new sustainable jobs, mainly inless developed economic coastal areas;
  • Creation of new export markets;
  • Reduction of carbon emissions;
  • Reduction of energy imports;

As a result of Germany’s plans for future offshore wind energy development, the German Association of Machinery and Plant Manufacturers (VDMA) expects the employment of an additional 20,000–30,000 workers and engineers – mainly along the economically less developed coastal areas in Northern Germany. Throughout Germany, however, expansion of offshore wind energy is seen as a huge opportunity, as the wind energy supply industry is distributed throughout Germany, including traditional centres of the German machinery and plant building industry in the southern and western parts of Germany.

Industry sees huge potential for future expansion, not only in the domestic offshore wind energy market, but also for exporting these technologies to other markets in Europe. Realising the German government’s offshore wind strategy will initiate a total associated investment volume of 75-100 billion Euros. This figure includes investments from wind turbine manufacturers and the supply industry, as well as for grid connection, logistics, marine industries, maintenance and service sectors.

Further information is available at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Offshore wind farms in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea

Fig. 1: Offshore wind farms in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea

alpha ventus – A Pioneering Project

In September 2005, Stiftung Offshore Windenergie (the German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation) acquired the project rights of ‘Borkum West’ from developer ProkonNord, with a grant provided by the Federal Ministry of Environment. Under the name ‘alpha ventus’, the site has been leased one year later to the ‘German Offshore Test Site and Infrastructure Company’ called DOTI, as a pilot project for testing and research.

Apart from two different turbine concepts, the foundation concepts applied in the test site are different as well. The Multibrid turbines have been erected on a tripod construction, whereas the REpower turbines have been installed on a jacket construction. New territory had also been entered with respect to implementation of permitting procedures, since alpha ventus is not only the first offshore wind farm in Germany but also outside the twelve-sea-mile coastline. The project has proven the practicality of the extensive licensing requirements imposed on offshore wind farms in Germany. Thus, alpha ventus also provides a testing ground on administrative requirements, thereby, paving the way to further development of wind energy far offshore, both in Germany and throughout Europe.

In 2010, the first two commercial offshore projects are being built in German waters.
Baltic 1 with 21 turbines (each with 2.3 MW rated capacity) in the Baltic Sea off Rostock, as well as BARD Offshore 1 with 80 turbines (each with 5 MW rated capacity) in the North Sea.


German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation (2009): OFFSHORE WIND for CLEAN ENERGY,

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