Ensuring a Future for Offshore Wind Power in Cuxhaven
Cuxhaven is the nexus of wind power in Germany right now. But going forward, how does the region ensure ongoing, sustainable demand for the entire wind power supply chain? From manufacturing generators, rotors and tripods to installing the parks and cables to connect them to the landslide power network, wind power requires a complex infrastructure. How do we keep demand in the local area strong? How do we ensure market access to outside the region? (Below, middle: a map of other wind park development areas, i.e. potential export markets, that can be easily accessed from Cuxhaven.)
Officials from the city and business leaders gathered at Cuxhaven's Donner's Hotel to discuss.
Lord Mayor Dr. Ulrich Getsch noted that Cuxhaven was investing in its future with a new beach promenade, more overnight stays (tourism) than ever and better attractions like the Thalasso Center. The German Fisheries Union has its seat in Cuxhaven and there is a potential to grow as a car terminal to approximately 350,000 to 400,000 cars per annum.
He remarked that a great deal of steel (50,000 t last month) is being discharged just for the wind farms. Expansion goals in Germany are simply not sufficient in order to cover the production capacity of new industrial sites like Siemens; the export market must be taken into account to permit the investment to be amortized effectively. The new 7 MW turbines are already at the very limit of current equipment. Going forward, 10+ MW turbines are planned, which will need to be handled directly at the coast where a deep draught harbor is available. Transport from inland locations to the installation sites is going to be virtually impossible.
Cuxhaven and its region offer a certain reliability which is essential to the correct execution of offshore projects - for example, CuxPort/Rhenus have been able to complete the service of larger wind parks directly from its base in Cuxhaven.
Paul Bödeker of the State Parliament of Bremen, representing Bremerhaven, noted that North German coastal cities must be willing to work together more closely. He admitted that Bremerhaven was not prepared for the Siemens plant and congratulated Cuxhaven.
Looking at the wind power sector's progress in overall terms, at the moment, 3,000 MW are on the network; 3,700 MW are on schedule to be active by the end of this year, i.e. 2015. And financing for wind parks is no longer a problem; years ago, this was not the case but so much capital is entering into the market, demand for capital is less than the supply. Large international banks are now involved, which has significantly changed the calculation. However, export financing could be improved; a model along the lines of the Export-Import Bank is already being used in Denmark, but such a model could be replicated in Germany.
Major drivers of growth are cable factories in Cologne, turbine maufacturing plants in Bremerhaven (Adwen and Senvion) and Cuxhaven (Siemens), offshore service points in Helgoland and Norden-Norddeich and converter module maufacturing plants in Nuremberg (Siemens). The know how for wind energy, i.e. for the turbines and facilities themselves, is in northern German coastal states. However, the electrical engineering and cabling know how is in the south. Germany owns 65% of all patents in offshore, Denmark has 31% and Britain only 4%.
With respect to ongoing expenses, 5-6% of the investment amount of a given wind park flows into service and operations (service employees, ships, ports, replacement parts and consumables, power plant maintenance) - which is an important market for Cuxhaven.
Looking forward, 26.400 MW of generating capacity have been authorized, with a target of 15,000 MW operating in Germany by 2030. By 2020, presently operating capacity (ca. 3.000 MW) is anticipated to grow to 7.000 MW. In terms of overall present operating generating capacity, the UK is in the lead, followed by Germany.
Hans-Peter Zint, President of the Cuxhaven Harbor Business Association and general manager of Rhenux/Cuxport noted that the three major drivers of wind power remain. Employment in a high skills, high technology sector; the environment and the prevention of climate change; and the geopolitical goal of energy independence with respect to fossil and nuclear fuels.
Also, reliability in terms of price is supported by offshore wind power, since the prices are calculable over the lifecycle of the project (which can run decades). With oil, gas, etc., the prices can vary drastically due to external supply shocks and demand. In this respect, the future lies in cost reductions: the Danish project Horns Rev 3 can produce a KWh at 10,31 euro cents over a lifecycle of 12 years. Even this is a difficult proposition, however, compared to other sources, but it is a worthwhile one as an investment in the future and for the sake of geopolitics.