Almost unrecognisable – optimism prevails at Windforce

Thursday, 18 May, 2017 - 12:30
Following the zero-cent bids: offshore sector calls for expansion targets to be increased. (Photo: WAB)
Following the zero-cent bids: offshore sector calls for expansion targets to be increased. (Photo: WAB)

The number one discussion topic at this year's Windforce Conference was the results of the first German tender round. The zero-cent bids have revived the self-confidence of a whole industry.

The 13th Windforce Conference was held from 9 to 11 May in Bremerhaven under the lingering impression of the first tender round for offshore wind energy projects in Germany. Exploring the complexity of the entire offshore wind industry is, of course, not possible in two days. Instead, the organiser WAB e.V. succeeded in focusing on relevant topics and was able to encourage industry representatives to take part in lively discussions.

Number one on the agenda was, of course, the first round of German tenders. Three of the four approved projects will be completed without feed-in tariffs. This signals a turning point that promptly triggered demands in Bremerhaven for raising or even abolishing the expansion cap. "Offshore wind energy has impressively demonstrated its competitiveness. That is why the industry is calling for the expansion targets to be increased," said Andreas Wellbrock, Managing Director of WAB.

The political representatives in Bremerhaven, however, rejected this demand as expected. "Abolishing the cap is not on the agenda," SPD Bundestag member Bernd Westphal said. One reason for this is that the expansion of the grid is proceeding much too slowly. "We are not progressing fast enough with the expansion of the grid," Westphal admitted. Wellbrock agrees: "We are calling for policymakers to drive the delayed grid expansion and the necessary sectoral integration forward," he said. After years of complaining, the German offshore wind industry is once again making demands. A sign of renewed self-esteem, thanks to the zero-cent bids.

In addition to the German offshore industry, developments in offshore wind power in Massachusetts were another topic in Bremerhaven, as was the British offshore market, regardless of Brexit. Since the consequences are not foreseeable anyway, the industry has decided to ignore the upcoming British exit for the time being. British industry representatives praised the opportunities offered by European companies in the UK. In addition, WAB member companies provided insights into technological innovations and optimised service and maintenance concepts.

Katharina Garus

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