- North Sea "wind harvest" becomes a stabilising factor in the low-wind year 2021
- TenneT welcomes plans of the Federal Minister of Economics to prioritise offshore expansion in the future in the German North Sea
In 2021, the transmission system operator TenneT transmitted around 20.3 terawatt hours (TWh)*) of offshore wind energy from the German North Sea to land. In purely arithmetical terms, this can cover the annual demand of more than six million households with green energy. The annual result for 2021 is below a previous year's value for the first time: in 2020 it was still 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).
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 Tim 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). The strong increase compared to the previous year is mainly due to the fact that the commissioning of the Borssele Beta offshore grid connection system only 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.
The latest increases in climate targets and electricity demand expectations are leading to ever greater technical challenges for TenneT as a transmission system operator. TenneT is facing up to this and is working successfully and at full speed on further grid expansion on land and at sea. TenneT already 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.
Further offshore balance data
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 megawatts (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).
*) Financially supported electricity volumes according to EEG, without other direct marketing and including 0.082 TWh unremunerated, due to negative prices; for 2021 as preliminary actual value. The onshore electricity quantities for the months October to December 2021 partly include preliminary estimated values.