Offshore wind farm

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View of the Riffgat offshore wind farm northwest of the island of Borkum (the transformer platform on the left ) in light fog

Offshore wind farms ( OWF ) are wind farms that are set up in the coastal area of ​​the seas.

The term “offshore wind farms”, which is occasionally used in German for offshore wind farms, is wrong, however, as these have so far not been built on the “ high seas ”, but exclusively on the continental shelf . Offshore locations are usually characterized by relatively continuous wind conditions and high average wind speeds, which is why wind turbines installed in them usually achieve a high utilization of 3500 to 5000 full load hours . Since construction, grid connection and operation are significantly more expensive than with wind farms on land, especially with great distances from the coast and high water depths, the electricity production costs are higher than with the use of wind energy on land, despite higher electricity yields .

Offshore regions in Europe with high winds are in particular the North Sea , the Irish Sea to northern France, the Iberian Atlantic coast around La Coruña , the Golfe du Lion in the Mediterranean, the Greek Aegean , parts of the Italian coast, the province of Lecce , the province of Taranto and the province of Brindisi . The combination of offshore wind farms with wave power plants results in various advantages such as B. the shared use of infrastructure (technical as well as organizational), the joint operation and the partial shielding of the offshore wind farms from strong waves, which in turn increases the maintenance and repair window for offshore wind farms.

The UK (43% of all European plants), Germany (34%), Denmark (8%), the Netherlands (7%) and Belgium (6%) are leaders in the use of offshore wind energy up to and including 2017 . Outside of Europe, it is China (see also list ). In addition, a number of other countries such as Finland , France and Japan are relying on a strong expansion of their offshore capacity.


Offshore wind farms are erected using towed jack-up platforms or installation vessels specially built for this task . Both jack-up rigs and installation ships have a heavy-duty crane, space for components of wind turbines and extendable legs with which they are firmly anchored on the seabed while the systems are being erected. Important construction steps are the installation of the foundation structures, the assembly of the transition piece between the foundation and the tower, the tower assembly, and the installation of the turbine itself, which in turn consists of several steps. The cabling of the individual systems with the transformer platform and the laying of the export cable to the onshore transfer station are also important. Often, several ships and platforms are running in parallel to carry out various activities in a wind farm.

Used wind turbines

Prototype of the Alstom Haliade (installed in 2012)

Since offshore locations place significantly higher demands on wind power plants than on land, plant types specially developed for these conditions are used. The manufacturers are pursuing two solution strategies: the marinization of existing onshore systems through appropriate modifications or the completely new development of pure offshore systems. In addition to the loads caused by the high wind speeds, the systems must be protected against the salty ambient air, in particular with corrosion protection . Seawater-resistant materials are used for this, and assemblies are often completely encapsulated or machine houses and towers are equipped with overpressure ventilation . In order to minimize failures and downtimes, the systems are often equipped with more extensive monitoring systems, on-board cranes for smaller repair work, helicopter platforms and / or special landing platforms for better accessibility in rough seas. In addition, certain essential systems are designed redundantly, if possible. Most modern offshore turbines are now certified for a service life of 25 years (as of 2015).

Compared to onshore wind farms, the share of wind turbines in the total costs is significantly lower, while the costs for installation, foundations, inner farm cabling and grid connection are higher. At the Nysted offshore wind farm, the turbine costs B. made up just under 50% of the total installation costs, while 51% were accounted for by the ancillary costs. Since these ancillary costs increase only disproportionately with an increase in the size of the turbine, and logistics and maintenance are also easily possible with large turbines, a trend towards ever larger turbines has been evident in the offshore industry for years. Were used in the first commercial offshore wind farms until around the end of the 2000s BC. a. Turbines with a nominal output of 2 to 3  MW and rotor diameters of 80 to 100 meters have been used, and since the end of the 2000s wind turbines with 3.6 to 6 MW and rotor diameters between 107 and 126 meters have dominated. In 2012/2013 several manufacturers presented new types of systems, the prototypes of which have mostly already been installed and put into operation. With nominal powers between 6 and 8 MW and rotor diameters of 150 to 171 meters, these systems have significantly higher values, with the rotor blade area in particular being increased disproportionately to maximize the amount of energy and reduce costs. They went into series production from the mid-2010s.

Systems with over 10 MW (e.g. Haliade X.12 MW ) with rotor diameters of 220 meters are currently under development.

Foundation of the offshore wind energy plants

Tripod base in Bremerhaven
Rededication of packing hall X in Bremerhaven (2011)

The foundation of the structure is influenced by its own weight, the flow of the water (also the cyclical one caused by ebb and flow ) and the force of the waves. The force of the wind acts on all parts of the structure outside the water and indirectly on the foundation. All of these forces can add up. In the North Sea the bottom is mostly sandy and therefore relatively flexible. This means there is a risk of long-term deformations that endanger the stability of the systems.

Increased requirements are also placed on the corrosion resistance of the offshore structures, since the systems are constantly exposed to salty water and air. Attempts are made to counteract the susceptibility of the steel used with cathodic anti-corrosive current systems (KKS systems).

The greater the water depth at the location, the higher the requirements for the long-term stability of the offshore structures . This is particularly important for German wind farms, which are approved almost only at a great distance from the coast. The wind turbines have safely on the ground Founded be. There are different ways to set up a company:

The use of floating wind turbines is also being considered. Floating support structures are considered to be comparatively expensive, but they are easier to adapt to large systems and enable simpler logistics. This makes them particularly suitable for large systems in greater water depths. Another advantage is that hard blows from strong gusts of wind can be dampened somewhat by swinging the platform back. So far, however, there are only a few test systems, and no commercial projects have yet been implemented.

The Bremerhaven Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) is coordinating the HiPRWind project (High Power, High Reliability Offshore Wind Technology) with a total budget of 20 million euros. Cost-efficient approaches for floating wind turbines for use in offshore wind parks are also to be developed and tested.

Electrical connection of offshore wind farms

Completion of an empty conduit for a submarine cable on Norderney

Offshore wind farms deliver their energy to the coast via submarine cables . There the energy is mostly fed into the general power grid at the highest voltage level . For longer transmission distances, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission is an alternative to alternating current transmission for energy transmission from sea to land . In principle, direct current transmission results in fewer losses, since no reactive power then has to be transmitted. Reactive power always leads to active losses in the AC voltage network due to the increased current in the line. Since the capacity of a submarine cable is significantly higher than that of an overhead line on land, the use of HVDC is already economical even for relatively short distances; It is assumed that HVDC systems are more economical than a conventional connection from a cable length of approx. 55 to 70 km. In order to convert the alternating voltage of the wind turbine into direct voltage, the offshore wind farm also needs a converter platform . This can be built in the form of a gas-insulated switchgear , making the platform smaller and therefore cheaper.

Since most power grids worldwide are AC grids, there is a converter at the end of each HVDC that converts the incoming direct current into alternating current. Due to the associated higher costs and the losses in the inverter amounting to 1.2 to 2%, technical and economic aspects must be weighed before the construction of an offshore wind farm in order to determine how the electrical connection to the coast can be made in the most economical way.

For the wind farms in the German EEZ in the North Sea , because of the great distance to the mainland, energy is usually transmitted via an HVDC transmission system. At the beginning of 2012, the first HVDC BorWin 1 was built to connect the wind farm (OWP) " BARD Offshore 1 ". By the beginning of 2015, further HVDCs such as the HVDC HelWin 1 for the OWP " Nordsee Ost ", " Meerwind Süd / Ost" and HVDC SylWin 1 for the OWP " DanTysk " and HVDC BorWin 2 for the OWP " Global Tech I " were put into operation others like the HVDC DolWin 1 for the “ Trianel Windpark Borkum ” are under construction, others are planned.

The further expansion of wind energy on the coast makes it necessary to strengthen the transmission network if the energy supplied by wind farms is to be transported from northern Germany to the consumption centers in the Ruhr area and southern Germany. There are currently plans in Germany to continue to transport electricity in the country via high-voltage overhead lines . This is justified by the fact that overhead lines are cheaper to operate in this country than cables laid in the ground. The construction of a total of four HVDC lines from northern Germany to southern Germany is also being considered.


Wind conditions

Offshore locations usually have significantly higher wind speeds than locations on land, which means that wind turbines installed there can achieve higher yields. The mean wind speeds in the southern North Sea are over 8 m / s at a height of 60 meters, in the northern North Sea around 1 m / s higher. The values ​​are somewhat lower in the Baltic Sea. Typical offshore wind conditions prevail from a distance of approx. 10 km from the coast . Thanks to a “bulbous” wind profile, no tall towers are necessary to achieve maximum cost efficiency, so that the tower heights are largely determined by the rotor blade length and the expected maximum wave height ( wave of the century).

Turbulence intensity

The turbulence intensity of offshore wind farms is well below the turbulence values ​​of onshore wind farms. While the turbulence intensity onshore is between 10 and 20%, it is usually below 10% in offshore wind farms; typical values ​​are about 8% at an altitude of 60 to 75 meters. This goes hand in hand with lower structural loads for the wind turbines. However, the turbulence caused by the turbines themselves has a greater effect than with wind farms on land, which is why the distances between the turbines must be greater offshore than onshore.

Turbulence also has a negative effect on yield, which is particularly important in large wind parks with high numbers of turbines. Due to partial shading and turbulence , the rear wind turbines receive less wind or wind of poorer quality, which leads to yield losses. With a 400 MW wind farm and a distance of 5 rotor diameters, the farm efficiency is reduced by approx. 12% according to model estimates, with 7 rotor diameters by 8% and with 9 rotor diameters by 6%. These losses can be reduced by common measures such as B. reduce the staggered construction of plants, but not eliminate it entirely. In the case of floating wind turbines, it is theoretically possible to move the systems depending on the prevailing wind direction and thus to optimize the yield. However, this has not yet been tested, so it is currently unclear whether this proposal is also suitable in practice.

Maintenance and repair

Compared to onshore wind farms, there are several differences in operation for offshore wind farms. This applies in particular to the aspect of maintenance and, if necessary, repair of the systems. Offshore wind farms are naturally much more difficult to reach, and the systems cannot be reached at all for days , especially in rough weather conditions . For the Danish offshore wind farm Horns Rev near the coast, for example, statistics show an accessibility of 65% by ship and 90% by helicopter; For wind farms that are significantly further away from the coast, accessibility is assumed to be lower. Therefore, the operating and maintenance costs are significantly higher than the costs of comparable wind farms on land.

By combining offshore wind farms and wave power plants , the accessibility of offshore wind turbines can be significantly increased and the maintenance and repair window can be expanded, which in turn leads to greater availability and thus higher yields and lower electricity production costs. The reason for this is that wave power plants take energy from the waves and thus reduce the wave height, which allows safe entry of the wind power plants even in somewhat harsher conditions. The transfer of maintenance boats to the wind turbines is possible up to a wave height of approx. 1.5 m.


It can be assumed that after around 20 years of operation it will be necessary to dismantle offshore plants. Currently (2019) only three offshore wind farms have been dismantled worldwide. In order to build up know-how in this area, Seeoff, a research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics , started in November 2018 at the University of Bremen with the participation of the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation , Deutsche Windtechnik AG , Nehlsen as well as Vattenfall and EnBW .

Environmental impact and ecology

European lobster

When erecting offshore facilities, a considerable amount of noise is generated underneath the sea by ramming and drilling, as is required by most foundation structures. That is why the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU) is calling for bubble curtains to be used in the construction of such systems , which help to reduce the noise level. Harbor porpoises in particular would be frightened by the noise and sometimes become disoriented. NABU criticizes the fact that this technology was not used as planned during the construction of Alpha Ventus . Other ways of avoiding noise are gravity foundations that do not require sound-intensive pile driving, or the use of floating wind turbines.

The first test results from the practical use of bubble curtains are now available, which were obtained from a research project at the Borkum West II wind farm . The final report of these scientific studies can be viewed online. Accordingly, the basic suitability for practice could be demonstrated. By laying a bubble curtain, the sound emissions were significantly attenuated and the exposed area was reduced by approx. 90%.

During a study of the Egmond aan Zee offshore wind farm , Dutch scientists came to the conclusion that the wind farm had a positive effect on wildlife . The biodiversity within the wind farm is greater than in the surrounding North Sea. This applies in particular to marine animals, which find resting places and protection in the wind farm. This has now also been confirmed in the accompanying ecological research RAVE at the German offshore wind farm Alpha Ventus . There were only negative effects during construction. Some bird species hunted by sight avoided the wind farm, while other birds did not feel disturbed by the systems.

In 2013 Spiegel Online reported that Hummer is to be established at offshore wind farms . However, the population has collapsed massively in the past 40 years as a result of massive poisoning in the North Sea and its warming by 1 ° C, which is why lobsters have been bred and released into the wild for years to avoid a collapse of the population. So far this has been done v. a. near Heligoland , now offshore wind farms are also to be settled. These are particularly useful, as Hummer preferred a hard subsoil, which in offshore wind farms has to be created in any case using artificial stone pouring as protection against scouring . The procedure is financed by compensation payments from the wind farm operators, which could result in larger numbers of lobsters being released into the wild. The OWF " Riffgat " within the twelve-mile limit serves as a pilot project .

Development worldwide

Wind turbine in the Thorntonbank wind farm

At the end of 2017, wind turbines with a capacity of around 18,800 MW were installed in the sea worldwide .

So far, Europe has led the way in the construction of offshore facilities. At the end of 2015, 3230 offshore wind turbines with a total output of 11,027 MW were installed and connected to the grid. These were located in 84 wind farms in eleven states; six of these wind farms were still under construction. In 2015, 759 systems with 3,019 MW were newly connected to the grid. The largest capacity was installed in the UK in 2017 with 6,840 MW; Germany followed with 5,350 MW, Denmark with 1,300 MW and the Netherlands with 1,120 MW. Outside Europe, the expansion of offshore wind energy is making rapid progress, especially in China. Systems with an output of 2,800 MW were installed there at the end of 2017.

According to the European wind energy association WindEurope, at the end of 2016 there were 3589 wind turbines on the grid in ten European countries, which had a total installed capacity of 12,631 MW. In 2016, a total of 338 new wind turbines were installed in seven offshore wind farms (813 MW in Germany, 691 MW in the Netherlands and 56 MW in Great Britain).

In an analysis published in 2019, the International Energy Agency assumes that offshore wind energy could generate around 36,000 TWh of electrical energy worldwide if usable areas with a water depth of up to 60 meters and a distance from the coast of up to 60 km were used. This corresponds to about 1½ times the global electricity demand of 23,000 TWh (as of 2019). Overall, the IEA assumes that offshore wind energy will grow 15-fold within 20 years.


In Belgium , a sea area was designated for the use of offshore wind energy in 2004, and seven concessions were awarded to various companies for implementation. In 2013 the construction of the Thorntonbank wind farm with a total of 325 MW was completed. Six REpower 5M turbines and 48 6M126 turbines from the same manufacturer are used. In addition, the first construction phase of the Bligh Bank project with 55 Vestas V90-3 MW turbines and a total of 165 MW was half completed. At the end of 2013, a prototype of the Alstom Haliade 150-6 MW offshore wind turbine was erected in this wind farm . According to the company, with a rotor diameter of 150 meters and an output of 6 MW, it was the largest offshore wind power plant ever built, with the rotor blades each 73.5 meters long. The OWP SeaMade with 58 wind turbines from Siemens Gamesa, each with an output of 8.4 MW for a total of 487 MW, is to be commissioned by the end of 2020. Further offshore wind farms are in the planning or construction phase.


The first Chinese offshore wind farm went into operation in July 2010 . It is located on the coast of Shanghai and was built by Sinovel . At the end of 2013, offshore wind farms with 165 wind turbines for a total of 428.6 MW were installed in the People's Republic of China , an expansion to 5 GW by 2015 and to 30 GW by 2020. At the end of 2016, wind farms with a total capacity of 1,630 MW were already in place in Chinese waters. In addition to the usual three-winged aircraft, there are also efforts in China to bring two-winged offshore systems to series production. In July 2013, Ming Yang announced the development of a double-bladed wind turbine with 6 MW and a rotor diameter of 140 meters, which was implemented in September 2014. A floating, double-bladed wind power plant with 8 MW is to be built in 2015. Work is already underway on two-winged aircraft with an output of 12 MW, but the system is still in a very early stage of development.

In 2017, 14 OWF projects with a capacity of almost 4,000 MW were approved, the investment volume is 9.8 billion euros.


Danish Baltic Sea Wind Farm Nystedt (Rødsand)

As with onshore wind, Denmark was a pioneer in offshore wind. As early as 1991, Vindeby had its first wind farm with eleven turbines, each with an output of 450 kW, connected to the grid, with the turbines being installed up to around 3 kilometers from the coast in 3–4 meters deep water. Another wind farm, Tunø Knob, followed in 1995 , consisting of ten 500 kW turbines, which was built 6 km from the coast in 3–5 meters deep water. The first commercial projects were finally tackled from the end of the 1990s. In 2001, Middelgrunden went online with twenty 2 MW turbines east of Copenhagen, and a year later, Horns Rev 1 was put into operation in the North Sea as the world's largest offshore wind farm at the time. 80 wind turbines with a total output of 160  MW are used there, delivering around 600 GWh of electrical energy annually. This wind farm was later increased by 91 turbines to an installed capacity of 369 MW with a standard energy capacity of 1.4 billion kWh; a further expansion of 400 MW is planned. In addition, a number of other offshore wind farms have been built, of which the Anholt offshore wind farm with a nominal output of 400 MW is currently the most powerful.

A total of more than 1,000 MW of offshore wind power was installed in Denmark in March 2013. Due to topographically favorable conditions and short distances from the coast, the electricity production costs of Danish offshore wind farms are comparatively low. The remuneration varies depending on the wind farm. For example, the electricity generated at the "Rødsand 2" location is remunerated at 8.3 cents / kWh. At the Anholt offshore wind farm, the feed-in tariff for the first 20  TWh is 105.1  øre / kWh (corresponding to approx. 14 ct / kWh). Then, after around 12-13 years of operation, the electrical energy produced is sold on the free market without any further subsidies.


Offshore wind farms and their grid connections in the German EEZ of the North Sea (" Entenschnabel ")

In Germany , the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is responsible for the application process outside the 12-mile zone but within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) . The administrations of the respective federal states are responsible for the construction within the 12-mile zone ( territorial sea ) (until now Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania ).

In addition to the wind farms in the German EEZ, another three offshore wind farms have been in operation within the twelve-mile zone since 2018: Riffgat and Nordergrund in Lower Saxony and EnBW Baltic 1 in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and more are being planned in the Baltic Sea .

According to Deutsche WindGuard, 1,305 wind turbines with a total of 6,382 MW installed capacity were in operation at the end of 2018. A good 5300 MW were accounted for by plants in the North Sea, and almost 1080 MW by those in the Baltic Sea. In that year, 136 new systems with a capacity of 969 MW were connected to the grid; in addition, systems for 276 MW were already fully installed, but not yet feeding in. Further projects with 966 MW were under construction, and the investment decision had been made for a further 112 MW. On June 30, 2019, according to information from Deutsche WindGuard, 1,351 offshore turbines for a total of 6,658 MW of power with grid feed-in were in operation, 56 had already been installed, but still without grid feed-in, and 94 foundations had been set, but without an installed system. This means that the share of renewable energy in electricity generation was 47.6%. At the end of 2019, 1,469 systems with a capacity of 7516 MW were connected to the grid in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea, another 16 with a capacity of 112 MW were installed, but still without grid feed, and another 16 with a capacity of 118 MW were under construction.

In 2019, German offshore wind farms supplied 24.2 TWh of electrical energy (2018: 19.3 TWh, 2017: 17.7 TWh, 2016: 12.09 TWh, 2015: 8.25 TWh), 20.21 TWh from wind farms in the North Sea (2018: 16.75 TWh, 2016: 10.83 TWh, 2015: 7.4 TWh) and 3.95 TWh of those in the Baltic Sea (2018: 2.35 TWh, 2016: 1.26 TWh, 2015: 0.8 TWh). The (theoretical) capacity of the North Sea OWP was 6436 MW at the end of 2019 (2018: 5313 MW, 2017: 4687 MW), the performance of the discharges via submarine cables of the transmission system operator of the German North Sea wind farm Tennet was 7132 MW (2018: 6232 MW ). The highest feed-in capacity of the North Sea wind turbines to date was 6,077 MW on December 5, 2019.

The German shipbuilding and offshore supply industry generated sales of 10.7 billion euros in 2018. The offshore wind energy sector has around 24,500 jobs in Germany (as of mid-2019). In autumn 2019, as part of the GroKo climate package , it was decided to expand offshore wind energy in Germany to 20,000 MW by 2030.


Around the year 2000 it was assumed that there was not enough space in Germany to be able to set up enough wind turbines on land (onshore). At the same time, many locations with comparatively weak winds could not yet be used, while in some federal states, especially in Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg, the use of wind energy was politically blocked by the local state governments. Due to this mixed situation, the red-green federal government decided to accelerate the expansion of offshore wind energy in addition to onshore wind energy.

In 2010, the federal government's energy concept set the goal of setting up an offshore wind capacity of 10,000 MW by 2020, and up to 25,000 MW by 2030. After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011, the expansion of wind energy was more in the focus of public interest. However, in 2012 it was no longer realistic to achieve the performance targeted by 2020.

Wind turbines at the alpha ventus offshore wind farm in the German Bight

" Alpha ventus ", the first offshore wind farm in the German EEZ, has been supplying electricity since the end of 2009 and was officially commissioned in April 2010. It has a total output of 60 megawatts and in 2012 produced a total of 268 million kilowatt hours.

In January 2013, BARD Offshore 1 , Trianel Windpark Borkum , Global Tech I , Meerwind and Nordsee Ost in the EEZ of the North Sea and Riffgat off the island of Borkum were under construction and some were already supplying electricity. On February 8, 2013, the construction of DanTysk began. After completion, the nominal output of the offshore wind farms had increased to a total of 2280 MW, which corresponds to around 23% of the target figure for 2020.

For various reasons, many banks were reluctant to lend to operators and shipyards. While in other countries offshore wind farms are built in waters close to the coast, in Germany most wind farms are built in waters further away from the coast and therefore deeper so that the wind farms cannot be seen from the coast. This increases the costs of offshore wind energy in Germany considerably.

In June 2013, calculations by the Federal Environment Agency became known, according to which (in view of the performance increases in onshore wind power plants ) offshore plants would not be necessary in purely mathematical terms .

By June 2015, the BSH had approved 34 offshore wind farm projects with a total of 2292 wind turbines in the German EEZ , 2052 of them in 31 parks in the North Sea and 240 in three parks in the Baltic Sea ; two applications for the Baltic Sea were rejected. After completion of the plants, this corresponds to a potential output of around 9 gigawatts. For the German EEZ in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, further applications are pending for a total of 89 projects (75 North Sea, 14 Baltic Sea).
On June 30, 2016, a total of 835 wind turbines (WTs) with a total output of 3552 MW were in operation in Germany, mainly in the offshore wind farms (OWP) alpha ventus (12 WTs), Amrumbank West  (80), BARD Offshore 1 (80), Borkum Riffgrund (78), Butendiek  (80), DanTysk  (80), Global Tech I (80), Meerwind Süd | Ost (80), Nordsee Ost (48), Riffgat  (30) and Trianel Windpark Borkum ( 40) in the North Sea and EnBW Baltic 1 (21) and Baltic 2  (80) in the Baltic Sea . A further 54 wind turbines with a capacity of 324 MW were fully installed but not yet connected to the grid. The foundations have already been erected for 142 additional systems.

By the end of 2016, almost 950 systems with a total of 4100 MW were on the grid. A further 21 wind turbines had already been installed on December 31, 2016, but were not yet feeding into the grid, and 198 additional foundations had already been laid. In the first half of 2017, 108 wind turbines with a total of 626 MW were connected to the grid. This means that on July 30, 2017, 1055 wind turbines were in operation in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, and they have a combined output of 4,749 MW.

At the beginning of 2017, funding for new offshore wind farms was switched to a tendering model. The aim was to better control the costs of the energy transition by limiting the increase in capacity to around 730 MW per year, which unsettled the offshore industry. As a result, the activities of the wind turbine manufacturers as well as construction and service companies were cut back, which also led to plant closures and job cuts.

On April 1, 2017, the first bidding phase of the tendering process according to the Wind Energy at Sea Act (WindSeeG) began for existing OWP projects with a total of 1550 MW nominal output. Four North Sea wind farm projects with a total capacity of 1490 MW were awarded the contract: “Borkum Riffgrund West II” ( Dong Energy ), “ He dreiht ” and “Gode Wind 3” ( EnBW ) as well as “OWP West” ( Northern Energy ). At an average of 0.44 cents / kWh, the value of the funding was lower than expected, and three projects can probably be built without funding.

In the second round of tenders for existing offshore wind farm projects, which took place in spring 2018, the capacity volume was 1610 MW (1550 MW plus the 60 MW not awarded in 2017). At least 500 MW are planned for plants in the Baltic Sea. The following bidders were awarded: Orsted Borkum Riffgrund West I GmbH (North Sea Cluster 1), Gode ​​Wind 4 GmbH (North Sea Cluster 3), Iberdrola Renovables Deutschland GmbH (Baltic Sea Cluster 1), Baltic Eagle GmbH (Baltic Sea Cluster 2) and KNK Wind GmbH (Baltic Sea Cluster 4). At least 800 MW remained free on the converter platforms in the North Sea for energy transmission on land, of which 650 MW could be used for a short time.

In 2019, five more offshore wind farms with a total of 284 turbines for a total output of 2032 MW were put into operation. In the German EEZ alone, 1391 wind turbines with a total output of around 7120 MW are in operation.


The subsidy rate for OWP systems that went online by 2015 is 15 ct / kWh for the first twelve years of operation (initial payment). This initial remuneration is extended by 0.5 months for every full nautical mile exceeding twelve nautical miles and by 1.7 months for every full meter of water exceeding 20 meters. Only then does the remuneration drop to 3.5 ct / kWh, which the producers receive for the offshore electricity. For the duration of the EEG remuneration of 20 years, the average remuneration for offshore wind power is at least 10.4 ct / kWh (at 12  nautical miles from the coast and a water depth of a maximum of 20 meters), which is far above the remuneration for photovoltaic open-air systems lies (see also here ).

However, since offshore wind farms in Germany are normally not set up near the coast, but 30–100 km from the coast in 20–50 meters deep water, which generally increases the initial tariff significantly, the amount is 10.4 ct / kWh to be seen as the lowest possible feed-in tariff. BARD Offshore 1, as an offshore wind farm relatively far from the coast, is located around 60 nautical miles off the coast in around 40 meters of water. As a result, the initial remuneration is calculated arithmetically extended by about two years (48 × 0.5 months) due to the comparatively large distance from the coast, and by almost three years due to the water depth (20 × 1.7 months), so a total of about five years. The average feed-in tariff over 20 years of operation would then be around 13.3 ct / kWh.

Alternatively, a compression model is also possible, in which 19 ct / kWh is granted as an initial payment for the first eight years for wind farms built before 2018. If the 12 nautical miles from the coast and 20 meters of water depth are exceeded, 15 ct / kWh will be paid over the extended period (see above) analogous to the mechanism described above, and 3.5 ct / kWh after this extension has expired.

Cost reduction potential of offshore wind energy

The cost reduction potential of offshore wind energy has been named and quantified by the leading manufacturer of offshore wind energy systems - Siemens Windenergie . According to this, the costs of offshore wind power should be reduced by 40% by 2020, after which further cost reductions should be possible. In 2013, Siemens saw the potential to reduce costs, in particular through weight reductions, industrial series production, the introduction of longer rotor blades and greater hub heights, and better logistics. Floating foundations are also being considered. Prognos identified the greatest potential in reducing maintenance and operating costs as well as financing costs. Overall, they estimated the cost-cutting potential within the next ten years to be 32 to 39%.


In 2016, the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company criticized the German energy transition with regard to offshore wind energy: "The expansion is progressing, but still too slowly."

Great Britain

Great Britain relied on the strong expansion of offshore wind energy earlier than most other countries. Negotiations between the wind energy sector and the government began as early as 1998 for the purpose of designating priority areas within the 12 nautical mile zone belonging to the Crown Estate . As a result, guidelines were issued and finally projects called "Round 1" were put out to tender. The North Hoyle wind farm with 60 MW was commissioned as the first Round 1 project in 2003 , and further wind farms followed. Due to the construction only a few kilometers off the coast in shallow water, both the installation and the grid connection could be implemented relatively easily and therefore comparatively inexpensively. This was followed by two further tenders, known as "Round 2" and "Round 3", which had the purpose of building larger offshore wind farms.

The remuneration was not uniform and has since been changed. In April 2009 the British government increased the remuneration for offshore electricity by issuing two instead of one certificate per megawatt hour generated. A certificate is equivalent to around 3 cents per kWh. Since April 2010 there has been a remuneration similar to that in Germany, and wind energy is also exempt from taxes.

At the end of 2017, Great Britain had the world's largest installed offshore capacity with around 6,835 MW (of around 1700 wind turbines), and an offshore capacity of 10,000 MW is to be built up by 2020. Wind turbines for 1,400 MW were under construction, further wind turbines for 3,240 MW have been approved. With 630 MW, London Array is the largest offshore wind farm in the world to date, and when it is completed it is expected to have a capacity of around 1,000 MW. In second place is the Greater Gabbard wind farm, which opened on August 8, 2013, with a capacity of 504 MW. In the future, however, even larger wind farms are planned in the round 3 tenders. Doggerbank is to be the largest wind farm with an output of 7,200 MW. Originally 9,000 MW were planned here.


At the end of 2013, Japan had 17 wind turbines with a total of 49.7 MW installed capacity. Due to the special topographical location of Japan with steeply sloping coasts, the use of offshore wind farms with conventional foundation structures is considerably more difficult. That is why Japan relies more strongly than other countries on floating foundations . The first test projects were implemented at the end of 2013. In the long term, the largest floating wind farm in the world is to be built in the waters off Fukushima. Two more large wind turbines with 7 MW each are to follow by 2015. When the commercial wind farm will follow is still unclear.


After Denmark, the Netherlands was the second country to promote the use of offshore wind energy. In 1994, Lely , the first nearshore wind farm consisting of four 500 kW systems was built in the IJsselmeer . Another nearshore wind farm in the IJsselmeer followed in 1996 with Irene Vorrink (sometimes also referred to as Dronten). There, 28 600 kW systems from Nordtank were used, which were built in the immediate vicinity of the coast, giving the wind farm a total output of 16.8 MW. In 2006 and 2008, Egmond aan Zee (108 MW) and Prinses Amalia (120 MW) were two real offshore wind farms in the North Sea. The Luchterduinen offshore wind farm with 43 Vestas V112-3.0 MW wind turbines was completed in mid-2015 . One year later, the nearshore wind farm Westermeerwind with 129 MW , located in the IJsselmeer, went into operation.

As of May 2017, after the commissioning of Gemini, wind turbines with an output of around one gigawatt were in operation. Offshore wind energy is to be expanded further in the future. Offshore wind farms with a cumulative capacity of around 4.5 GW are to be installed by 2023, and 11.5 GW by 2030. In mid-2016, Dong Energy was awarded the contract to build the Borssele wind farm, which consists of two areas of 350 MW each . With an offer price of 7.27 cents per kilowatt hour, the offshore wind farm had the cheapest electricity production costs in the world at the time. As of 2016, four further wind farms with 700 MW each are in the planning phase.


The first Finnish wind farm Tahkoluoto off the coast of the city of the same name comprises ten Siemens turbines with four MW each, thus has a nominal output of 40 MW and was installed in the Baltic Sea in September 2017 using gravity foundations .

United States

The first US wind farm is the Block Island offshore wind farm and has a capacity of 30 MW and consists of five wind turbines with 6 MW each from GE. In 2015, the Danish developer Alpha Wind Energy is planning a project on several areas off the Hawaiian coast with a total of 100 wind turbines. Since the water depths there are 700 to 1000 meters, floating foundations should be used.

See also


  • Alfred Toepfer Academy for Nature Conservation (Hrsg.): Offshore wind parks and nature conservation: Concepts and development . NNA reports, year 16, issue 3/2003, 76 pages, 2003.
  • Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety: Development of Offshore Wind Energy Use in Germany (PDF; 1 MB) 2007.
  • Jörg v. Böttcher (Ed.): Handbook offshore wind energy. Legal, technical and economic aspects. Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-486-71529-3 .
  • E. Brandt, K. Runge: Cumulative and cross-border environmental impacts in connection with offshore wind farms: legal framework and research recommendation . 2002, ISBN 3-7890-7797-6 .
  • Erich Hau: Wind turbines - basics, technology, use, economy. 5th edition. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2014, ISBN 978-3-642-28876-0 . limited preview in Google Book search
  • S. Pestke: Offshore wind farms in the exclusive economic zone: in the conflict of goals between climate and environmental protection . Nomos-Verl.-Ges., Baden-Baden; partly also: Univ. Bremen, Diss., 2008, ISBN 978-3-8329-3132-2 .
  • Offshore wind farms in Europe · Market study 2010 . KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, 2010, 90 pages.

Web links

Wiktionary: Offshore wind park  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

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