More Innovation for the Wind Energy Sector

HWG member NPorts discusses the energy revolution and its effect on maritime businesses

copyright: Mariko GmbHWind energy is one of the most important drivers of the German energy sector. In order to secure this industry both in Germany and, in particular, the “wind-hub Weser-Ems”, as well as to remain competitive in an international market, innovations are indispensable. For this reason, the Maritime Competence Centre (Maritimes Kompetenzzentrum or “Mariko GmbH”), together with the Strategy Council for Maritime Business Weser-Ems, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for East Frisia and Papenburg and the Emden/Leer University of Applied Sciences hosted a conference on 5 March regarding the topic “Standstill in the Energy Revolution and its Effect on Maritime Business”. One of the roughly 70 participants was Werner Repenning, the director of the Office of Strategic Business Development at Niedersachsen Ports (NPorts), member of the Cuxhaven Port Association (HWG).

NPorts has, for years, been driving innovation in Cuxhaven. As of last year, the port is the first among the five seaports in Lower Saxony to offer shore-side electrical power for freight shipping. This helps to prevent air pollution and noise and reduces the consumption of carbon dioxide. Moreover, in recent years, the port has developed into the German Offshore Industry Centre.

However, during the podium discussion, Mr Repenning pointed out that even the port of Cuxhaven would suffer if the energy revolution suffered a standstill: “Acting under the assumption of the originally defined goal of 25 gigawatt of offshore wind energy installations by 2030, the state of Lower Saxony via its port operator Niedersachsen Ports has invested a lot of money in the expansion of its offshore base in Cuxhaven. More than 1,000 metres of heavy lift capable piers and warehousing areas were built. By slashing the buildout goal by 40 percent down to 15 gigawatts by 2030, significantly fewer offshore wind power projects will be executed and that will negatively impact the capacity utilization of these port facilities.”

In addition to this, during the discussion, Mr Repenning advocated not only keeping the supply of power in mind with respect to renewable energies, but rather to think one step further and consider the linkage to industrial sectors. In Northern Germany, wind is available in large quantities as a source of renewable energy. But until now, there have not been any good solutions in terms of storing and transporting it, for example as an alternative energy for use in mobility applications. In connection with this, he reported on the “WASH2Emden” project, which began in December. This venture in the port of Emden is exploring which possibilities exist to use generated hydrogen power and excess wind energy for users in the port. These and other exemplary projects provide not only knowledge gains, but also contribute to increasing the acceptance of wind energy amongst the population, which is essential for the success of the sector.

Also in Cuxhaven, there is an intensive discussion surrounding the possibilities of sourcing electrical power from hydrogen. On 29 April 2019, the Hamburg Renewable Energies Cluster (EEHH) hosted an event together with the Economic Development Agency of Cuxhaven focused on “Hydrogen”. In addition to zoning in on hydrogen as a fuel of the future, the participating actors had the opportunity to have discussions amongst each other and create networks. Beyond this, for June, a conference regarding the topic “Offshore Wind Energy and Hydrogen” is being organized. Lower Saxon Minister of Environment, Energy, Building, and Climate Protection, Olaf Lies, is set to participate in light of the fact that the state of Lower Saxony will, in order to push forward the energy revolution, rely more heavily on hydrogen as a fuel in the future.

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