Germany to overtake UK as the leader in offshore wind energy by 2015

 It cites uncertainty over UK government policy as the reason for Germany’s potential dominance. The claim turns on its head the idea that the UK is spearheading the offshore wind turbines revolution, in part the result of advantageous conditions for the technology that exist off the nation’s coasts.

The study by consultants Enventi, which will be published in two or three weeks, analysed cable manufacturers’ backlog of orders for offshore subsea power cables, which showed that 76% of orders are heading for German offshore wind farm plants. Projects in the UK accounted for just 13% of orders.

Scott Macknocher, general manager of Enventi, told ICIS Heren that the analysis offers the first tangible evidence that uncertainty over government reform is turning investors off UK-based projects. "There has been a lot of talk about how government policy is slowing investment, but [there has been] nothing concrete to prove it until now," said Macknocher.

The UK government’s review of financial support for renewable technologies has already slipped several deadlines; the most recent target of August just passed. A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said that the banding review of renewables obligations certificates (ROCs) would be released "as soon as possible" and could not give a reason for the further delay or a more definitive date.

Enventi has linked delays such as this with the large-scale movement of key wind farm components to Germany. In addition, Germany is already well-advanced with the installation of high voltage direct current networks that link offshore farms to the grid.

The central European country could have the most installed offshore wind capacity some time between 2015 and 2020, said Enventi. ROCs are the UK’s established subsidy scheme for large-scale renewables projects. All technologies in England and Wales receive a maximum of two ROCs/MWh.

The new bands will be in place for the four years between 2013 and 2017, subject to parliamentary approval. ROCs will then be replaced by feed-in tariff contracts for difference from 2017. According to the electricity market reform white paper, industry participants can choose between the two schemes until then (see EDEM 12 July 2011).