Federal Agency for Maritime Shipping and Hydrography Presents First Federal Offshore Grid Plan for the North Sea

In accordance with its obligations under the revised German Energy Act (EnWG), the Federal Agency for Maritime Shipping and Hydrography (BSH) has presented the first federal offshore grid plan (Bundesfachplan Offshore) for the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the North Sea. It specifies and supplements maritime planning with regard to the planning of offshore grids.

The North Sea offshore grid plan divides the planned and permitted wind farms with a maximum distance of 120 km to the shore into into 13 clusters. It specifies power line routes or corridors for power line routes for the connection of wind farms, defines sites for converter platforms and transformer substations, routes for cross-border power lines and interconnection points (Übergabepunkt) between the EEZ and the territorial sea. The plan therefore provides legal certainty for the individual permitting procedures and thus investor certainty, BSH said.

The North Sea federal offshore grid plan prescribes a standard performance (Standard-Systemleistung) of 900 MW for each converter platform. Cables also need to have a transmission power capacity (Übertragungsleistung) of 900 MW at a voltage level of 320 KV. These requirements made it possible to link the different converter platforms in the future, enabling the grid operator to balance the grid in case of a failure of a converter platform or parts of the grid, BSH explained. The technical standards also made it possible to link the German offshore grid with an international North Sea grid in the future, BSH said.

The agency pointed out that a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment was made before deciding on the power line routes and the locations for the converter stations to ensure that the interests of the parties interested in making use of the sea regions were sufficiently balanced with nature protection. In the designated areas, grid operators could now effectively built the necessary grid connections, BSH said.

Until 2030 25 converter platforms and roughly 3,880 km of sea cables are needed to connect the wind farms, BSH estimates.

According to Germany’s energy concept, 25 GW of offshore wind power shall be installed in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the North and the Baltic Seas by 2030 and 10 GW by 2020. Latest data by the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW) show that in 2012 135,0 Mrd. kWh of renewable energy were generated in Germany. 0.5% were provided by offshore wind power. Lately the CEO of RWE told the newspaper Handelsblatt that he was sceptical of Germany reaching its offshore goals.

When presenting the Federal North Sea Offshore Grid Plan the president of BSH, Mrs Monika Breuch-Moritz, said that capacities were determined in such a way that reaching the government’s goals for 2030 was in principle feasible. The plan had been drafted in close cooperation with the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) and the coastal states, she stressed.

The next step for implementing the ambitious offshore goals will soon follow. The new Section 17b EnWG requires the transmission operators to submit to BNetzA an annual offshore grid development plan by 3 March of each year for approval, starting 3 March 2013. The offshore grid development plan (O-NEP) has to be based on the offshore grid plan by BSH. It has to contain all the measures and steps for an optimisation, enhancement and expansion of the offshore grids, which have to meet the demand and ensure the security of supply over the next ten years and are necessary for a safe and reliable operation of the offshore grid connections.

Source: BSH

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