Sunday, 9 September 2012

German offshore wind sector needs more than just new law: executives
28 Aug 2012

(Reuters)-Changing regulations will not be enough to make Germany's planned offshore wind expansion work, executives and industry experts say, arguing the industry needs to find other ways to support one of the main pillars of the country's energy shift.

Germany's cabinet will discuss on Wednesday a draft law on expanding the use of offshore wind parks, a reaction to the slow expansion that network operators said was caused by insufficient regulation. "Certainly, the new law is a step in the right direction", Mike Winkel, head of renewable energy at E.ON, Germany's largest utility, told the annual Handelsblatt conference on renewable energy. "But the main goal has to be to get the grid connections done in time. Greater certainty for investors can only support this", he added.

He pointed to lengthy procedures to approve and connect offshore projects that were slowing down the offshore expansion. Grid operators are reluctant to build power lines at sea because they have to pay compensation should they break down. So many wind farms could lack the means to transfer the power they are generating back to the mainland.

The government is trying to address this bottleneck by passing on those costs to power consumers to reduce the risk for investors who have been very hesitant to invest in the offshore sector so far. That way, the government wants to make sure it can meet its goal of installing more than 10,000 MWs of offshore capacity by 2020, and 25,000 MW by 2030, to replace 20,500 MW in nuclear capacity gone by the end of 2022.

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