German North Sea wind energy transmission sees drop in 2021

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 13/01/2022 TenneT
European transmission system operator TenneT has reported that, in 2021, it transmitted around 20.3 terawatt hours (TWh) of offshore wind energy from the German North Sea to land.

According to TenneT, the annual result for 2021 is below a previous year's value for the first time; 2020 saw 22.76 TWh. The decline is primarily due to weather conditions, as 2021 was a low-wind year overall. In Germany, total onshore and offshore wind power generation reached 114.37 TWh in 2021 (previous year 129.63 TWh). The share of North Sea electricity rose to 17.8 percent (previous year 17.6 percent).

In the German North Sea, the maximum value of the feed-in capacity of offshore wind farms in 2021 was measured on 29 January at 6,357 MW. The capacity expansion of offshore wind farms in the German North Sea was 6,679 MW on the reporting date of 31 December 2021, with no change from the previous year. TenneT's offshore transmission capacity is 7,132 MW in the German North Sea.

Wind turbines in the German Baltic Sea (50Hertz grid area) generated 3.7 terawatt hours in 2021 (previous year 4.13 TWh), so that Germany's total offshore generation in this period was 24 terawatt hours (of which North Sea 20.3 TWh).  Adding 90.37 terawatt hours of onshore wind energy generated, the total yield in Germany comes to 114.37 terawatt hours (previous year 129.63 TWh).

TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens said: "In Germany, the share of North Sea electricity in total wind power generation now accounts for almost one fifth and is proving to be a stabilising factor in years with weak winds. On average, we generate around twice as many full-load hours offshore as onshore and can thus partially compensate for lulls on land. Recently, however, there has been no increase in offshore wind power. We therefore welcome the plans of Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck to give priority to offshore expansion in the future and to strengthen   co-utilisation and cross-border projects in the process.”

The emergency programme announced by the Federal Minister of Economics could give the energy transition the urgently needed momentum it needs to get back on track and achieve the ambitious climate protection targets, said Meyerjürgens. "The approach of integrated, forward-looking planning of the various grid infrastructures is also correct - because this is the prerequisite for achieving climate neutrality in 2045. For this, we urgently need modern, efficient planning and approval procedures. The goal must be to make planning as fast as construction. There are enough levers to be tightened, for example, standardisation of species protection and closer dovetailing of regional planning and planning approval procedures. At the same time, it is important that the government ensures that we have the necessary political support for implementation on the ground and that we jointly campaign for acceptance," Tim Meyerjürgens stressed.

In the Netherlands, the transmission capacity of TenneT's offshore grid connections amounts to 1,503 MW. These transmitted 4.71 TWh in 2021 (previous year 1.82 TWh). TenneT attributed the year on year increase to the commissioning of the Borssele Beta offshore grid connection system which happened in the second half of 2020. A further 3.53 TWh was fed directly into the Dutch TenneT grid onshore by Dutch offshore wind farms in 2021. In total, almost twice as much wind energy was thus produced offshore in the Netherlands as onshore. The total onshore wind energy capacity in the Netherlands is 4,500 MW, which generated 4.41 TWh in 2021.

TenneT operates more than half of all offshore grid connections in the EU. By 2030, TenneT will realise 16 more and then provide almost 29 gigawatts of wind power transmission capacity in the North Sea. In the same period, TenneT will invest around 20 billion euros in the Netherlands and Germany for this purpose.