The conference entitled "Partners of the energy reform - maritime industry and offshore wind energy" is taking place in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology today. It will host four workshops in which associations, Federal ministries and companies will explore the commercial opportunities of offshore wind energy. In addition, the conference will chart the way forward for the special challenges that shipyards, shipping companies and suppliers are facing, in particular regarding port capacities and the safety and facility of maritime transport. The conference was initiated by Hans-Joachim Otto, Parliamentary State Secretary and the German Government's Maritime Coordinator, together with his colleagues Katherina Reiche from the Environment Ministry and Enak Ferlemann from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, and with the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation.
The reason for the conference is the German Government's objective to install offshore wind parks with a capacity of around 25,000 MW by 2030. The build-up of additional wind energy capacity may produce sales to the tune of 100 billion euros. This will open up major business opportunities for the German coastal regions, the German mechanical and plant engineering sector and the maritime industry. To date, the expansion of offshore wind power has created at least 7,000 jobs. If we continue to consistently expand the use of offshore energy, this number is set to rise considerably in the coming years.
State Secretary Reiche: "On- and offshore wind energy plays a pivotal role in the transformation of our energy supply. In the offshore field in particular, there is a great feeling of optimism. We are confident that we will be able to meet our expansion goals in this area. We are now working hard to tackle the challenges, for example regarding ports, shipyards or network infrastructure."
Building permits have already been obtained for 29 of the planned offshore wind parks. The special five-billion euro programme for offshore wind energy that entered into force in June 2011 has had an immediate impact. Two wind parks have already received financing commitments under the programme.
The ambitious expansion goals open up an enormous potential for growth and market opportunities across the entire value chain. State Secretary Otto: "The companies in the offshore wind energy sector have a tremendous innovative capacity. Investments in product development and production processes give us the chance to establish an internationally successful industry since an increasing number of countries want to invest in offshore wind energy. This benefits the coastal Federal states, in which new clusters are being formed. However, this development will also be of benefit to the inland Federal states, which have impressive manufacturers of components."
The maritime sector plays a key role in meeting the ambitious expansion goals. The working group called "Linking up the maritime industry with the offshore wind power sector" headed by the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation, which was initiated at the 6th National Maritime Conference, constitutes an important link between the relevant industries and policymakers. Various expert subgroups are working on specific solutions regarding skilled staff, safety and facility of maritime transport, safety standards and port infrastructure. These issues are being tackled as part of the implementation of a comprehensive protection and safety concept. The results that have been achieved so far will be used as input for the discussions at the conference.
One of the workshops aims to document the high system competence of the German maritime industry and to show that German shipyards, suppliers and shipping companies have a lot to offer, which makes them ideal partners for wind park operators. State Secretary Otto: "The conference brings together offshore wind park operators and all stakeholders of the maritime industry. Wind-turbine installation barges, cable layers and supply vessels will be needed for the wind parks. This also gives German shipyards the opportunity to show their efficiency and to stand up to international competition."
Another important issue is whether the existing and planned port capacities of Germany's seaports are sufficient for the planned expansion of offshore wind energy. State Secretary Ferlemann stated: "Offshore wind energy is a major opportunity for our ports and offers them a long-term economic outlook. In the ports, many plant components are manufactured, temporarily stored and partially assembled. Offshore ports operate the transport and offshore installation of the wind turbines. They are the central base for maintenance and repair work. Together with business and industry we are working on a coordinated strategy for the development of offshore wind turbines in order to use the ports' capacities most efficiently and to enable the necessary investments to take place in port infrastructure and superstructure. In this context, it is equally important to ensure the safety and facility of maritime transport and to create a level playing field through the harmonization of safety rules."
The three ministries have set a joint target of drafting a progress report entitled "Offshore Wind Energy - needs, opportunities and potential for seaports and ships". The progress report is a measure of the National Master Plan for Maritime Technologies.