Germany Accelerates Offshore Wind Development With Three Sites for 5.5GW

German offshore wind farm
Germany started auctions for three additional North Sea locations (file photo)

Published Mar 1, 2024 1:09 PM by The Maritime Executive


Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has issued the fourth phase of its offshore wind program publishing the results of surveys for three new lease areas in the North Sea. They are releasing the details and beginning the second auction of 2024 with a deadline established of August 1 for bids on the three new sites.

The authority published the 4th WindSeeV, which contains the results of the preliminary area investigation for the construction of the three offshore wind farms. The newest area is in the western reaches of Germany’s North Sea exclusive economic zone near the border with the Netherlands.

BSH President Helge Heegewaldt commented, “With the entry into force of the 4th WindSeeV, the BSH is giving the offshore industry planning and legal certainty for the construction of three wind farms with an installed capacity of 5,500 MW in the North Sea. We are thus reaching another major milestone on the way to the Federal Republic of Germany’s 70 GW target.”

One of the three areas covers 158 km2 (61 square miles) with an installed capacity of 2,000 MW. It is located approximately 98 km off the Dutch island of Ameland and 107 km off the German island of Borkum. A similar-sized second area is located approximately 101 km from the nearest island, Ameland (Netherlands), and 111 km from the German island of Borkum. The third area is slightly smaller at 106 km2 (40 square miles) and would have a capacity of 1,500 MW. The shortest distance to the nearest island Rottumerplaat (Netherlands) about 108 km and it is a similar distance from Borkum as the other two parcels.

In addition to the three new sites, for which developers will have the benefit of the pre-investigation reports, last month the German authority also launched an auction for sites that could provide 2.5 GW of capacity in the North Sea. These sites, however, have not been pre-investigated. This follows similar auctions in 2023 for 7 GW of capacity.

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics is also moving forward with a draft law for the implementation of the third Renewable Energy Directory. To speed the development of offshore wind assets, the draft proposes replacing the requirement for project-specific environmental impact assessments (EIA) with a broader strategic assessment for the areas yet to be designated.

In a rare move, some of the leading wind farm developers including Ørsted, RWE, and Vattenfall, joined with environmental groups calling for continuing the EIA requirement. They said this step creates better legal certainty for the developer and aids in investment decisions. They argue that the EIA does not delay the overall development of the projects.

The German government is looking to streamline the process to encourage more development and address challenges in the supply chain to ensure more projects are entering the pipeline. Experts however argue that one of the biggest challenges in the German industry is delays in developing the offshore grid connection systems in the North Sea.