Offshore wind farms have moderate cost overruns

Monday, 1 June, 2015 - 12:15
The Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg and the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport are prime examples of cost overruns. (Photo: dpa)
The Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg and the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport are prime examples of cost overruns. (Photo: dpa)

With average cost overruns of 20 %, German offshore wind farms are better than other major projects. In general, large-scale projects in Germany end up costing 73 % more on average than planned.

This is the conclusion reached in a study carried out by the Hertie School of Governance, headed by Prof. Dr Genia Kostka. The study examined 170 large-scale projects carried out in Germany since 1960, of which 119 had been completed and 51 were still ongoing. In the latter case, the study identified average cost increases of 41% to date. Energy projects are 136% more expensive on average.

The grid connection in particular causes cost overruns for wind farms. Wind park projects were delayed 13 months on average, which increased the costs for consumers by more than € 1 billion up to the end of 2014. According to Niklas Anzinger, author of the substudy for offshore expansion, the main problem is poor coordination between transmission system operators and wind farm developers, and the uncertain political framework aggravates this further. "Better cooperation, also with neighbouring North Sea countries, could produce additional learning effects," he said.

The study also enables comparisons to be made with the cost of nuclear power plants constructed between the 1960s and the 1980s. With average cost overruns of 187%, the six nuclear power plants that were studied were almost three times as expensive as initially estimated. Learning effects over time were not observed. "The technology in wind farms has reached a relatively high level of standardisation and their construction and installation times are shorter, and this clearly makes them easier to plan," Anzinger said.

Katharina Garus

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