"Changes to key regulations have added uncertainty at times"

Tuesday, 23 July, 2013 - 11:30

OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY spoke to Jonathan Cole, Iberdrola Director Offshore International, about the company's offshore activities in Germany.

OWI: Mr. Cole, if you look at your Wikinger project in the Baltic Sea, is Iberdrola faced with country-specific characteristics? If so, which ones? 

Jonathan Cole: Every project has country specific characteristics. In the case of German offshore wind farms like Wikinger several federal ministries, state authorities and local communities have responsibilities in the administrative consenting procedures, complex technical and legal administrative processes.

There’s also been heated debate on how to manage Germany’s transition to a sustainable and decarbonised economy by means of renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development - the "Energiewende". This and changes to key regulations during the development of such a long term project have added uncertainty at times.  A major challenge is the development of sufficient network capacity for transmitting the power generated in the north to the large industrial consumers in southern Germany.

If everything goes according to plan, including grid connection being secured by 2016 or early 2017 and also keeping a satisfactory feed-in tariff, the first procurement contracts should be awarded in early 2014. In this respect, Iberdrola welcomes investor reassurances expressed by senior German authorities about the need for long term stability of the regulatory framework. Nevertheless, grid connection availability, a stable tariff mechanism and a streamlined consenting process are essential to avoid unnecessary costs and risks and meet investors’ expectations.


OWI: How important is the German offshore wind market for Iberdrola compared with other European markets?

Cole: The German market is key for Iberdrola. Wind speed is nearly double than onshore and much more constant. Offshore wind has governmental support and offers huge potential benefits for the country. It will contribute to the ongoing decarbonisation of the electricity sector, promote energy independence and reduce exposure to volatile electricity prices. It also provides significant potential industrial benefits, allowing Germany to take advantage of its excellent industrial and maritime expertise and to make full use of its infrastructure.  Iberdrola’s offshore wind project pipeline in Germany stands at over 2,000 MW, representing 25 % of the Group’s offshore projects.                       


OWI: But especially in the Baltic Sea, offshore wind currently is not really progressing. What are your expectations for this specific region?

Cole: The Baltic Sea has high wind resource and distances to shore are relatively short compared to other areas. Also, AC grid connection is more flexible, faster to install and cheaper than DC. With Wikinger and Windanker, Iberdrola could install up to 1,000 MW before 2019, which is approx. 50 % of the Baltic potential within that time period.


OWI: Will Iberdrola select Sassnitz as basic port for further projects? 

Cole: After assessing nearby port facilities, the Offshore Terminal South (OTS) at the Port of Sassnitz (FHS) has been selected as the optimum alternative for warehousing, assembly, storing, and transportation of components and wind turbines to the site. An area of approximately 100,000 m2 has been secured for the foreseen installation period. There are ongoing negotiations to select the base for the operation and maintenance of the project. Sassnitz is well positioned for this and further projects.

The interview was conducted by Katharina Garus.


Related article:

Iberdrola selects Sassnitz as the base port for Wikinger

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