MWith regard to the energy transition, the news from Siemens Energy seems to be good news: the energy technology group has received an order worth billions for the construction of converter platforms. With the help of these stations, offshore wind power is converted from alternating current to direct current at sea so that it can be transported to land without major losses.
Specifically, it is about converters for two grid connection systems, each with two gigawatts of output, which are being built for the grid operator Amprion and are to be used to transmit electricity to Wehrendorf in Lower Saxony and Westerkappeln in North Rhine-Westphalia from the end of the decade. Together with the maintenance contract for ten years, the project has a volume of more than 4 billion euros.
According to Siemens Energy, it is the largest offshore grid connection order the company has ever received. Siemens has won the Dragados shipyard in Cadiz, Spain, as a production partner for this new generation of platforms. With 900 megawatts, the previous projects had not even made half the output possible.
The problem: there is currently no shipyard in Germany that would be able to carry out the order. “Having only a single location across Europe for the manufacture of 2 gigawatt converter platforms does not bode well for the energy transition, which depends in large part on the expansion of offshore wind energy,” warns the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation, a non-partisan, supra-regional and independent institution that sees itself as a communication platform for actors from politics, business and research. The Wind Energy at Sea Act, which came into force on January 1, stipulates that the installed capacity will increase to at least 30 gigawatts by 2030. The need for equipment is correspondingly large. The network operator Tennet alone has tendered a dozen such platforms, and Amprion has also announced further tenders.
There is also a location in Germany
It is piquant that there is in principle a German location for such projects: the shipyard site in Rostock-Warnemünde. This belonged to the insolvent MV Werften Group before the state bought it for a naval arsenal. This Wednesday, Defense Minister Lamprecht opened the base, as it was once called “Warnow shipyard”. However, the navy only needs a small part of the shipyard site, which is why the Belgian Smulders group sought a long-term lease agreement for the rest of the site.
Months of wrangling with the Ministry of Defense has not borne fruit. An order for two converter platforms for the Gennaker wind farm in the Baltic Sea worth several hundred million euros is now being realized by Smulders in Belgium. “The shipyard in Rostock-Warnemünde is an ideal location where up to three platforms could be produced at the same time,” says Karina Würtz, Managing Director of the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation. Smulders has the necessary know-how and financial strength, and there is political support from the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to meet the needs of national security: “Based on the facts, it is completely incomprehensible that an agreement has not yet been reached. “
Three platforms could be built at the same time
Anger is also growing in IG Metall about how the Ministry of Defense is dealing with this option. “The Federal Ministry of Defense is preventing the energy transition in Germany from leading to more jobs and added value,” complains Daniel Friedrich, district manager of IG Metall Coast. Friedrich warns that there is still a lack of capacity for the construction of the important platforms – the further orders could be realized on the strongly increasing market in this country.
While around 500 jobs were created by the naval arsenal, the settlement of Smulders would, according to earlier information, add another 1,200 jobs, directly on the site and with suppliers. In December, two local politicians from Rostock started a petition in favor of the settlement of Smulders.