German Govt Opens Areas in North Sea, Baltic Sea for Offshore Wind Development

On the heels of the Norwegian government, the German government has also opened up areas the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Dogger Bank for offshore wind development, which has seen rapid development and is expected to help Germany attain its climate targets

Horst Seehofer, Germany’s Federal Minister of the Interior, Building and Community. Credit: German Interior Ministry website

Horst Seehofer, Germany’s Federal Minister of the Interior, Building and Community. Credit: German Interior Ministry website

After the Norwegian government announced plans to open more areas in the Northern Sea for offshore wind development, the German government has followed suit. A new draft for offshore wind expansion by the Interior Ministry has designated zones in the Baltic and North Sea for renewable power generation. Parts of Dogger Bank which is a transnational sandbank in the middle of the North Sea have been identified as a priority zone for offshore wind development. According to the German government, Dogger Bank has the potential to boost Germany’s installed offshore wind capacity up by 4 to 6GW.

The allocation process has also proposed co-use as a means to include more areas for offshore wind development. Co-using such areas would allow fisherfolk to fish passively (with traps and baskets) in the exterior parts of offshore wind farms. The shipping industry, on the other hand, will likely have to give up some areas currently under their control. According to the new draft, one area in the North Sea and one in the Baltic Sea have been redesignated as priority areas for offshore wind development. Work is expected to begin there by 2030. This redesignation can be challenged by the Federal Ministry of Transport if it can prove, by 2025, that there are compelling reasons for retaining these areas for the shipping industry.

Offshore wind has been touted as one of the most promising clean energy solutions to help Germany accomplish its climate targets. It has rapidly expanded thanks to major price drops and technological advances in the field. German wind farms in the North Sea produced more electricity last year than ever before. In 2020, the amount produced rose by 12.4 percent to 22.76 terawatt hours (TWh) compared to 2019, according to the grid operator TenneT. An additional 4.13 TWh was produced by wind farms in the Baltic Sea, an amount that remains virtually unchanged compared to 2019.

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