Germany, which has been struggling to fill its massive energy gap following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and reduction of natural gas deliveries, is planning a major expansion of wind energy with the government setting an ambitious 30 GW offshore wind target by 2030.
“The German 2030 targets are achievable,” WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson told NE Global. “The question is which auction design will help ensure Germany does achieve the targets and does so most cost-effectively. Negative bidding cannot be the way forward. It makes offshore wind more expensive for everyone. Developers pay extra – it’s pure additional costs which they then have to pass on either to consumers and/or their suppliers,” Dickson argued.
The WindEurope CEO said that consumers are really struggling with their bills already and the supply chain is operating at a loss. “Negative bidding just makes their bad situation even worse! Germany also needs to ensure it has the factories and infrastructure in place to deliver the expansion of offshore wind. This means investing also in port capacity, vessels and the workforce,” Dickson said in an exclusive comment.
According to WindEurope, Europe added 19 GW of new wind energy capacity in 2022 with 16 GW of those in the EU, which is 40% up from 2021. “But it’s much less than what’s needed for the EU’s 2030 goals. And investments in new wind farms and new wind turbine orders were down in 2022, due to unhelpful government interventions in electricity markets and inflation. The EU and national governments must restore investor confidence. And they must engage proactively to support the European wind supply chain and enable it to grow,” WindEurope stated.
Europe built a total of 19 GW of new wind energy capacity in 2022 – Germany built the most followed by Sweden, Finland, France and the UK. Europe now has 255 GW of wind energy capacity, according to the WindEurope Annual Statistics report 2022 published on February 28, noting that 87% of the new wind capacity Europe built last year was onshore. There were only 2.5 GW of new offshore wind farms built.
On February 17, Germany’s EnBW and Norwegian energy company Equinor said the two companies had teamed up to develop wind farms off the German coast.
Not enough to reach EU targets
The EU-27 built 16 GW of new wind. That’s 40% more than in 2021. “Over 2023-27 we now expect the EU to build 20 GW of new wind every year on average. But that is not enough to reach the EU’s energy and climate targets,” WindEurope stated. “The EU needs to build on average 31 GW every year up to 2030. That’s achievable if Europe continues to simplify permitting rules and procedures; restores clear signals to investors; and invests substantially in the wind energy value chain- factories, grids, ports, vessels, and skilled workers,” WindEurope projected.
The EU’s new energy strategy, REPowerEU, aims to simplify permitting rules and procedures. Last year’s emergency measures on permitting enshrined for the first time that the expansion of renewables is in the “overriding public interest.”
In Germany overriding public interest is already unlocking wind energy projects that had been stuck in court cases.
Meanwhile, the share of wind in Europe’s electricity consumption is growing. In the EU27+UK it’s now 17%. The European Commission wants wind to reach 43% of EU electricity consumption by 2030. But right now new investments and wind turbine orders are falling, due to high inflation and interventions in the electricity markets by different national governments that have undermined investor confidence, WindEurope data showed. 2022 saw only 13 GW of new wind farm investments announced. Not a single offshore wind farm reached final investment decision. Wind turbine orders fell by 47% on 2021 to 11 GW.
However, new investments in offshore foundation manufacturing have reportedly just been announced in Spain and the Netherlands. Greece is upgrading a cable plant and Poland is said to be attracting some investments in new turbine factories and port facilities.
Peering towards the horizon, one thing is clear: There is no discernable surge in new wind manufacturing capacity across the EU on the drawing boards. Accordingly, even if the EU ramps up expenditures to meet the new targets, imports would be required to build out much of the desired new wind capacity.