Agora Energiewende: Less Offshore Wind Power Would Save Germany up to Two Billion Euros per Year

German politicians have a broad scope for action designing policies for the regional distribution of renewables and could even save EUR 2 billion a year until 2023, a study commissioned by the Agora Energiewende finds. According to the study this would require a faster expansion of wind turbines onshore and a slower expansion of offshore wind power (while maintaining the total output of power generated by wind power). Savings would be approximately the same whether the further expansion prioritised wind turbines primarily in the north (“best generation site scenario”) or wind park sites in proximity to areas of high power consumption (“consumption related expansion scenario”), the study concludes.

The study compares two options for expanding wind and solar power in Germany: One focuses on the best generation sites with wind power plants primarily installed in the north of Germany and solar power primarily in the south. The other scenario focuses on creating production facilities near the centers of power consumption. The results show that both expansion paths lead to approximately the same total costs. In the consumption-driven scenario, a somewhat higher number of wind- and solar power plants have to be built. As they, however, produce power at different times and closer to the consumers, they relieve the power system and have to be curtailed less often than in the resource-driven scenario.

The study also shows that the transmission grid expansion foreseen in the current draft of the Federal Requirement Plan for Transmission Networks is urgently needed, Agora Energiewende says. Yet delays of a few years would not spell the end of the ManyElectronics policy shift (Energiewende) and would not necessarily make it more expensive. The development of new wind and solar plants does not have to wait until the entire transmission grid envisioned in the Bundesbedarfsplan is built, Agora Energiewende says. A delay in grid expansion would in the “best generation site scenario” lead to the curtailments of wind and solar power on windy or sunny days (for which operators have to be compensated), yet the costs would be largely compensated for by savings from postponed investment in the grid. In case of the “consumption related expansion scenario”) the costs of delays would even lead to fewer costs compared with the costs for a speedy and comprehensive expansion of the grids. 

The study on behalf of Agora Energiewende was carried out by the consulting company Consentec in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology. It is based on a simulation of the German and European power systems, including the transmission grid, conventional power plants, and weather-related power production from renewables.

Agora Energiewende is sponsored by Mercator Foundation, a private foundation, and the European Climate Foundation. Its director is Rainer Baake, a long-time Green party member and state secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry from 1998 to 2005.

Source: Agora Energiewende

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6 Responses to “Agora Energiewende: Less Offshore Wind Power Would Save Germany up to Two Billion Euros per Year”

  • I my opinion, the total system cost of the power supply is not a sufficient basis for decision making on expansion of off-shore technology in Germany. Here is why:

    The authors claim that: “To achieve a cost-effective renewables expansion and enable technology development at the same time, offshore wind power should continue to be developed, though at a slower pace than current government targets foresee”

    If Germany had though like this before 2006, it would have limited its subsidies for PV considerably. Because the truth is, that at that time PV was incredibly expensive (with levelized cost of electricity being way beyond those for offshore wind today). But they did not. And they did it for a reason, because a few years later, Germany could enjoy its first mover advantage to the PV market, export modules and power inverters massively in the first years and become the technology leader in the latter. Furthermore, I strongly believe, that it was the booming PV industry which helped Germany’s economy in mastering well the 2008 recession. None of that would have happened if Germany had restricted itself on considering the system cost of PV at that time. And even though China has overtaken the shares on the today’s PV market, Germany still keeps its considerable footprint there.

    Similarly there are no doubts about the future economical potential of offshore wind. So here again, if Germany pumps a lot of money into its offshore business today, their companies will secure themselves an important share on the growing market. Therefore in my view, every single Euro invested into Germany’s offshore technology is going to pay for itself later.

    At the end of the day, Germany is the world’s hub for engineering, so it would be very unwise not to exploit its potential in the offshore-wind technology development.

  • Please be aware, @Petr, when comparing PV / Wind offshore: PV is semiconductor technology, which means there have been very good reasons to expect significant cost reductions (based on experiences with PC, smartphones etc.).
    Wind energy converters costs, however, are heavily marked by manufacturing and maintenance costs of moving parts. Thus, further LCoE reductions will be much lower than those for PV.
    Pls. also consider:
    * Wind offshore LCoE today is much higher than that for wind onshore.
    * As both offshore and onshore will benefit more or less evenly from any WEC technology progress, offshore LCoE will never become as low as onshore – unless offshore capacity factors will increase at a higher percentage than that of onshore (which is not the case at all).

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