German offshore wind-power investors still risk-averse
Germany's goal of reaching 10GW offshore of offshore wind-power capacity is still in doubt, despite the government's attempt to address investors' uncertainty. Financial and technical issues have delayed the progress of many of Germany's offshore wind projects.
"We underestimated that we are at the start of a learning process," said Frank Mastiaux, CEO of German energy group EnBW, at an industry meeting in Berlin on Tuesday.
Last year, the government passed a bill to allow financial costs to be passed on to end-consumers, helping to clear the blockage for current projects (see EDEM 29 August 2012). Following that, the European Investment Bank gave €500m to one of EnBW's 288MW Baltic 2 wind park parks and Japan's Mitsubishi Bank acquired a share in two offshore grid connections (see EDEM 11 January 2013 and EDEM 16 January 2013).
However, more work is needed to attract future investment, according to Jochen Homann, president of the German energy regulator, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA).
In particular, the risk on larger projects is still too great for potential investors. EnBW has indefinitely delayed the investment decision for its 400MW Hohe See wind park (see EDEM 14 November 2012) because the risks were too high for a project costing €1.5bn, EnBW's Mastiaux said in Berlin.
Financing still an issue
A major hurdle for investors would be a lack of knowledge on how to finance projects in the young offshore wind industry, rather than a lack of capital, experts agreed (see EDEM 17 October 2012). "There is sufficient capital," the chairman of national development bank KfW, Ulrich Schröder, said in Berlin on Thursday. But he questioned whether investors are willing to take the risks, he added.
KfW has earmarked €6bn for offshore wind projects. So far, only two projects received a share of that in 2011. But with no credit being offered last year, concrete talks have started again, and Schröder said he is confident that new projects can be financed in 2013.
This risk aversion by private investors has led to calls for the state to throw its financial weight behind the offshore wind project. But economy minister Philipp Rösler rejected calls for a state grid operator.
"It would be wrong to believe that nationalising the grid would lead to better results," he said on Tuesday in Berlin.
Offshore wind power is seen as essential to the success of Germany's Energiewende, the transition to renewable energy, because of the greater amount of full load hours. MD
Other Related Stories