4. April 2017 Opening Offshore Wind-Conference

Grußwort des Ersten Bürgermeisters, Olaf Scholz.

Opening Offshore Wind-Conference

Ladies and Gentlemen,

15 percent. 15 percent of the way – this is how far we have come along the path towards accomplishing the energy transition. Those are the words of Matthias Boxberger, one of the heads of the NEW 4.0, and it aptly puts the scale of this transition into perspective.

15 percent – this is an impressive figure when one considers how far we have already progressed. Perhaps one or two of you may remember Growian, and the abiding memories of overheated rotor brakes, cracked blades and spiralling repair costs. Growian, located in Kaiser-Wilhelm-Koog near Marne, started operating in 1983 – if one can call 17 working days in three years operating. At the time Growian was the largest wind power plant in the world: however, with a rotor diameter measuring more than 100 metres and a nacelle weighing 340 tonnes – it was, at the time, doomed to failure.

Growian was conceived too early and on too large a scale, and in 1988 it was finally shut down. Another quarter of a century passed before plants of this scale could be developed which were commercially viable. Today, however, due in part to digitisation, development is moving forward at a completely different speed – which is also necessary. Since 1970, worldwide demand for electricity has increased almost five-fold; by 2060 the World Energy Congress predicts it will have doubled again – and in contrast to previous decades we will be meeting this electricity demand mostly with renewable sources of energy.

Today, renewable energy makes up approximately one third of the German electricity mix – approximately double the share of nuclear power.  Offshore wind energy is an indispensable cornerstone within the renewable sector: last year alone, 177 offshore plants with an output of more than 940 megawatts were built in Germany. At the end of 2016, there were 947 offshore wind plants in German territorial waters supplying a total of 4,108 megawatts to the grid, sufficient for around 3 million households. That is an impressive figure, but there is still a long way to go. Because from the electricity transition we should progress to a genuine energy transition, encompassing all areas of life, from heat supply to mobility.

The key words for the further steps will be familiar to you all: grid expansion, sector coupling, load management and making consumption flexible – all against the backdrop of digitisation. Major projects are lined up and they all must ensure that, in the end, energy should also stay affordable. Cost pressures are increasing, which is why this year’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) will transmit a clear signal in the direction of “more market, less government”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

How do we go about identifying and improving the potential for reducing costs? -  And what role do tenders play in this context? The DNV GL and the Renewable Energy Cluster Hamburg have put these questions right at the top of their agenda. I am very pleased that you will be discussing these key issues in Hamburg and I can assure you: Hamburg will keep an eye on the effects of the new regulations.

Experts from Pricewaterhouse Coopers management consultants estimate that the fixed-price in future tenders based on the new Wind Energy at Sea Act will fall to under 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. Larger rotor diameters and increased hub heights will have a positive effect on the costs of generating electricity. The production costs will be reduced with an increase in the number of units.

New technical perspectives are opening up as a result of the improvements in both constructing foundations and foundation technology: In 2016, for the first time ever, offshore plants could be built in waters at a depth of 30 metres. This step into the open sea, far away from the coastline, distinguishes Germany from other European countries such as Denmark or the Netherlands, where the successful tender bids for Kriegers Flak of 4.99 cents per kilowatt hour and for Borssele of 7.27 cents per kilowatt hour attracted a great deal of attention. In this respect however, one should not forget major differences in the underlying conditions operating in various European countries. For example, in Germany the cost calculations include the provision that the costs for a wind park substation should be met by its operator.

Now we are eagerly awaiting the results of the first tender following on from the transition system for the EEG 2017. Afterwards we will have some initial indications as to the effects of the new changes. One thing is clear however: the offshore industry needs sufficient leeway in order to remain innovative and internationally competitive. This is an issue which should concern all of Germany. Only wind energy can supply enough electricity, and no other form of renewable energy can be produced so constantly and predictably as offshore wind energy. However, we can only utilise this advantage when the grid expansion is accelerated. The provisions for the grid expansion area in the EEG 2017 should help to ensure that the planning and implementation are more easily calculable.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hamburg is a main knowledge centre for wind energy. Two-thirds of all of the German offshore wind parks in the North and Baltic Seas currently under construction or in planning have been developed here in Hamburg. Leading companies which are major players in the industry are located in our city, many of them with research and development departments. The universities have pooled their expertise in the Energy Research Association. As part of the North German wind-energy region, Hamburg is connected to wind energy centres in Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Husum, Rostock and on Helgoland. The different regions in Northern Germany complement each other very well.

On first of December 2016 the future-oriented project “Northern German Energy Change – NEW 4.0” was officially launched. Its goals are ambitious: by 2035 Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein’s complete power supply should come from renewable energies. This can only be achieved with a smart energy system, which can ensure good sector coupling, for the storage and transformation of energy, for load management and flexibility in consumption.

The magic formula on the path towards this goal is called cross-industry-cooperation. I was able to see how well this can function at the 10th National Maritime Conference, which I have just come from. Digitisation has been transforming the maritime business just as much as the wind sector – and that both industries are working hand in hand to build safe wind parks at sea and reliably operate them is a major advantage. Cooperation is the key to innovation and competiveness. And that’s something we know all about here in Northern Germany.

Dear Conference Guests,

I am sure that after tomorrow’s session you will be travelling home with some interesting ideas and many new contacts. And I hope that between all the exciting discussions you can find some time to take a look at the harbour and perhaps, with no ulterior motive intended, feel the wind on your face and enjoy a breath of fresh air.

I wish you all the best and every success. And once again welcome to Hamburg.

Thank you.