June 24, 2020 / 3:25 PM / 22 days ago

Germany's Amprion sets out North Sea offshore wind grid vision

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German power grid company Amprion on Wednesday unveiled long-term plans for joint European offshore wind links in the North Sea and announced a trebling of spending in the next 10 years.

FILE PHOTO: Wind turbines are pictured in RWE Offshore-Windpark Nordsee Ost in the North sea, 30 km from Helgoland, Germany, May 11, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Charisius/Pool/File Photo

Amprion, with 11,000 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines in western Germany, is the second biggest of four regulated operators of grids criss-crossing the country and offshore, which fund themselves via consumer fees.

“If we want to have a climate neutral energy system by 2050, we have to start developing it today,” Chief Executive Hans-Juergen Brick said in a webcast with reporters.

Germany’s government three weeks ago set a goal to expand offshore wind capacity by 2040 to 40 gigawatts (GW).

Offshore wind provides more electricity than land turbines, and as Germany reduces coal and nuclear power use, its grids need to accommodate more renewable energy to meet climate targets and maintain supplies.

Neighbouring countries are also increasing their offshore capacity.

Amprion’s coordination scheme, called Eurobar, would help Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Norway and the Netherlands, as well as Germany to harness offshore wind potential of 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2050, Brick said.

Equivalent to 200 nuclear plants, the target is part of the European Union’s Green Deal policy to decarbonise the economy.

In the first quarter, Germany produced 43 billion kilowatt hours from onshore wind and 9 billion from offshore, together accounting for 33% of electricity production, data from industry association BDEW shows.

To manage the increasing share of offshore wind, Brick said technical standardisation needs to start now because cables and onshore links can each require 10 years to construct.

He also gave details of planned funding for Amprion, whose owners include RWE and Munich Re.

It would need to reach 15.2 billion euros ($17.16 billion) by 2028, compared with 5.2 billion in 2009-2019, for which the company would issue bonds from the end of 2021 onwards.

Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Barbara Lewis

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