No Energy Transition Without Offshore Wind!
Interview with Uwe Santjer, MdL, Chairman of the SPD in Cuxhaven County
Mr Santjer, by way of constructing berths 4 and 9, the State of Lower Saxony has, through its state owned port company NPorts, invested further in the infrastructure of Cuxhaven. What significance does the financing of port infrastructure by the State have for you? What part do you play in this, also with regard to the scope of your membership of the parliamentary subcommittee “Häfen und Schifffahrt“ (ports and shipping)?
The financing of port construction activities from Emden to Stade through the state government is of great importance to economic development in Lower Saxony and beyond that, for Germany.
With regard to financing port infrastructure through the state, the European government aid law provides a tight framework and requires the notification of individual measures. This also showcases the high competency of all involved at NPorts and in the state administration which led to both construction projects attaining the approval of the European Competition Commission.
When it comes to money, the State Parliament has a deciding say. And in relation to the budget of the state-owned port company, the ports and shipping subcommittee (Häfen und Schifffahrt) is involved. Due to our parliamentary work we were, for example, successful in obtaining an increase for the investment budget of the state-owned port company NPorts for 2018 of a further 10 million euros. With this, we create opportunities for the seaports of Lower Saxony.
I am glad that we will dedicate a total of 45.5 million euros on berths 4 and 9.3, as they are the basis of growth in Cuxhaven. My position as port policy speaker of the SPD parliamentary faction is comprised mainly of networking. Here, it is a matter of aligning the interests of the factions, the state government and the port industry.
The new EEG (Federal law on renewable energy) has already precipitated far-reaching protests in Cuxhaven and all of Lower Saxony. Is the new EEG slowing down the positive development of wind energy in Cuxhaven? What options does Cuxhaven have to advance the expansion of wind energy and the establishment of Siemens, with which it is so closely associated?
Offshore wind energy is an international business. The establishment of Siemens AG in Cuxhaven is an integral part of the international supply network of Siemens AG. Given that, I assume that the export market is a significant driver for the production of the multi megawatt wind turbines in Cuxhaven. And this doesn’t just apply to Siemens, but also to Ambau, who have been established in Cuxhaven for many years now, as well as for existing and new subcontractors.
In my view, the new and at the last minute amended EEG is likely to impede the continuous development of offshore wind farms in the North and Baltic Sea. I am told that in particular, developers of offshore farms are “holding their breath”. Given this, the significance of the Minister of Economic Affairs Olaf Lies’ wish, in conjunction with the city of Cuxhaven, to further develop Cuxhaven into the German Offshore Industry Centre is of great importance. At this point I would like to emphasise the great work of the Cuxhaven Business Development Agency, NPorts and the State Department of Trade and Industry and to thank them. This flagship project helps the region, but also the entire value-added chain of the wind energy sector. “Germany is for Offshore” (“Deutschland setzt auf Offshore“) is the key message. Insufficient decisions regarding the EEG in Berlin should motivate us more than ever to strive to influence the Federal Government to develop the EEG in future with offshore receiving greater significance and thus to enable cost-reducing potentials to come into greater effect. We have already succeeded in 2013 with the Cuxhaven Appeal, and we will further advocate this goal. I am convinced that the energy transition will not succeed without offshore wind!
The subject of housing development in the port in Cuxhaven is also currently relevant and plays a part in the development of the city. How can a compromise be made between private and commercial usage of the port?
The commercial nucleus of the port is comprised of the businesses surrounding transhipment, shipbuilding, shipping, fish processing and for several years now offshore wind energy. The livelihood of these businesses is of great significance for Cuxhaven. In areas of high commercial use the development of housing would almost certainly be ruled out.
On the other side, there are parts of the port which were left behind by the commercial development of the traditional maritime industry. This is where tourism stepped in, as also exemplified by investments like the Wind Force 10 Museum. The great restaurants and markets are a real draw for locals and visitors. The expansion of housing developments in the intersecting point between city and port must not endanger the livelihoods of the commercial businesses there. The aim here must be to continue with the good coordination intensively, as has been the case until now.