Germany and the Netherlands mull transnational wind projects

The governments of the two countries enter an MoU to both explore possibilities for joint offshore wind projects and to boost cooperation within a long series of other energy projects.
Photo: Michele Tantussi/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: Michele Tantussi/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Even though the EU has forcefully recommended as much, member states have not yet shown any great eagerness to carry out transnational public tenders. In fact only a single one has thus far been held. Germany and Denmark sent a smaller volume of solar capacity across the border to tender in 2016 as compensation to be permitted to maintain their respective RE subsidy schemes.

This could possibly change. In any case, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier and his Dutch counterpart, Eric Wiebes, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore the viability of joint transnational offshore wind projects, the two parties inform in a join statement.

Projects are identified

The two countries are already involved along with ten others in a North Sea energy partnership, which has assessed possibilities for connecting national grids via subsea cables since 2017. This cooperation also includes Danish transmission system operator Energinet and German-Dutch TSO Tennet's much-discussed proposal for artificial energy islands surrounded by clusters of offshore wind farms. This bilateral MoU is also connected to the North Sea proposal.

"Within the context of the North Seas Energy Cooperation, several exemplary cross-border offshore wind projects have been identified where a more detailed assessment and greater cooperation could be beneficial," the parties note in the memo, adding:

"[Germany and the Netherlands] will continue to look at these projects. They intend to jointly assess how these and other projects could contribute to further market integration and future sector coupling."

The two countries have some the EU's highest targets for offshore wind. Germany recently proposed a bill that would once again raise the bar for 2030 to 20 GW, while the Netherlands has set a goal to have installed 11.5 GW by the same year.


However, these admirable intentions don't necessarily mean that the first transnational offshore wind tender is just around the corner. In the summer of 2017, Germany also discussed holding a joint tender with France, but no further news of this has since come to light.

At the time, the meeting was mainly focused on how the joint tender was discussed, as Germany also wanted France to start off by decommissioning the Fessenheim nuclear power plant. It should be noted, though, that France – albeit hardly spurred by German pressure – decided last week to close the facility after quite a few fencing duels. Similarly, offshore wind was not the only point on the agenda at the German-Dutch meeting.

Here, parties also entered a deal for closer cooperation on research, carbon emissions pricing as well as development of hydrogen technology, which both countries are supporting. The initial point of the meeting was, however, "supply security", which in this context can be directly translated to mean gas. Germany craves assurances that gas will continue to flow over the border, despite the Netherlands' aim to shut down gas output in Groningen.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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