The Industry Whipping Boy


May 16, 2013

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How the tables have turned. Less than a year ago, TenneT, the German transmission services operator was under fire for its pace of connections to German offshore wind farms.

In many respects, it was the industry whipping boy. Often, issues beyond its control were laid on its doorstep – including slowing the development of the supergrid – as well as political scrutiny that called into question how well motivated the Dutch-owned firm was to solving problems with the German grid.

But in a study carried out for the firm by Offshore Management Resources, TenneT claims that, actually, the pace of offshore connections is outstripping that of wind farm developments.

Tennet’s warning coincided with similar concerns voiced by Stephen Weil, Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister, who stated in an interview with German press agency, dpa, that up to 10,000 jobs in offshore wind could be jeopardized by a lack of planning.

To tackle the situation, Weil has called for the German Government to fix the terms of its current offshore wind development programme to provide the financing community with the confidence to invest in German offshore wind projects.

Of course for potential investors, the perfect storm of delayed grid connections and wavering Government policy has acted to cool any significant private interest in the market. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

And aside from what is a clearly well thought out riposte by TenneT to many of its detractors in the market, it’s probably fair to say the firm had inadvertently made a wider point.

By blaming one part of the industry, it’s very easy to cover the cracks that may be appearing elsewhere. Indeed, TenneT claims that there is already enough cabling capacity to handle 6.2GW of offshore wind production – a figure that isn’t matched by installation.

Ultimately, the problems in the German offshore wind industry aren’t going to be solved overnight, but blaming one particular area of the market won’t move developments any further, any faster.

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