Country Reports

The further expansion of renewable energy is one of the main pillars in Germany’s energy transition. To achieve this, a successful instrument to promote green electricity was conceived: the Renewable Energy Sources Act, which entered into force in 2000. This law had the aim of enabling new technologies such as wind and solar energy to enter the market with support provided by fixed tariffs, a purchase guarantee and priority feeding-in of renewable electricity into the grid.

The Renewable Energy Sources Act has built a platform for the expansion of renewables, enabling them to emerge from a niche to become one of the mainstays of Germany’s power supply, generating 25% of electricity. However, the rapid expansion also resulted in a rise in the surcharge imposed under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (“EEG surcharge”). In addition, it posed a growing challenge for the stability of the electricity grids and the security of our energy supply. 

The amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2014 was therefore an important step towards ensuring the continued success of Germany’s energy transition. The revision particularly aims to substantially slow any further rise in costs, to systematically steer the expansion of renewable energy, and to bring renewable energy more and more to the market. It is clear that for energy-intensive industries, the price of electricity is a major factor in their level of competitiveness.

It is vital that the competitiveness of electricity-intensive industries - which already pay high electricity rates in comparison to their international competition - is not jeopardised and that value creation and jobs are retained in Germany, because the economy’s industrial core is of vital importance to prosperity and employment in Germany. At present, there are plans to alter certain aspects of the special equalisation scheme of the 2014 Renewable Energy Sources Act (inclusion of hardening plants and forges). The Federal Government adopted a corresponding bill on 1 April 2015.

The expansion of renewable energy in Germany is successful - renewables accounted for roughly 32% in 2015, and the policies now being put in place mean that their share is to rise to 45% by 2025. The 2014 Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG 2014) paved the way for expanding renewables in a way that is both reliable and easy to plan, and that makes them fit for the market. The 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act now heralds the beginning of a new stage of the energy transition - one that will be based on new rules: rather than being fixed by the Government, future rates of renewables funding will be determined by the market by means of dedicated auction schemes from 2017. This is because renewables have matured and are now ready to compete on the market. The new auction scheme is to ensure that the expansion of renewables proceeds at a steady and controlled pace and at a low cost.

The legislation also enables us to make sure that the high level of market-player diversity that has characterised the energy transition will be upheld. The law gives the first-ever definition of a “citizens’ energy company” and provides for these to participate in the auctions on simplified terms. Also, small installations are exempted from the auctions. The new (2017) version of the Renewable Energy Sources Act will enter into force on 1 January 2017.

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) is promoting research and development in the field of renewable energies within the framework of the energy research programme of the Federal Government. Projects are supported in wind energy, photovoltaics, deep geothermal energy, low temperature solar thermal, solar thermal power plants , hydropower and ocean energy and finally integration aspects of renewable energies in general.

For the production of electricity from hydropower the natural flow of the water - primarily from rivers or reservoirs - is used. In the area of the seas, the tidal and the energy content of the currents and the waves can be used for the generation of electricity. The advantage of hydropower and ocean energy compared to wind energy and photovoltaics is seen in the fact that the energy can be provided with less fluctuation and can be predicted more reliably. Hydropower is a proven source of energy, but it is already used in most of Germany’s suitable locations. The use of ocean energy, on the other hand, is still in the demonstration stage worldwide and is not considered suitable for use in Germany.

In the public sector, around 15 R&D institutes and universities are involved into developing wave, tidal current and osmotic power mainly in the framework of European research projects. The National funding in the framework of the national energy research programme for renewable energies is open to ocean energy research. Up to now, around 10 technology projects related to the development of components and concepts for tidal turbines and wave energy components have been funded.

In July 2015, a consortium consisting of SCHOTTEL HYDRO, Fraunhofer IWES, the Institute for Fluid- and Thermodynamics (IFT) at the University of Siegen, Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA) and Potsdam Model Basin (SVA), has started the project “TidalPower” which will run for three years. The aim of the project is to facilitate the deployment of the first prototype of the semi-submersible tidal power platform “TRITON” at the FORCE tidal research centre at the Bay of Fundy, Canada. In 2016, model tests of a 1:17 scale TRITON structure were performed at the Hamburg model basin as part of the project. The TRITON, developed by SCHOTTEL HYDRO subsidiary TidalStream Ltd., carries 40 SCHOTTEL Instream Turbines, reaching a total nominal power output of 2.5 MW. It will be built and delivered by SCHOTTEL HYDRO subsidiary Black Rock Tidal Power. The TRITON hull is currently being manufactured by Aecon Atlantic Industrial shipyard in Nova Scotia, Canada, and Schottel has started with the manufacturing of the 40 SIT 250 turbines. Deployment at FORCE, Bay of Fundy, Canada, is scheduled for 2017.

The Project “Development and Optimization of a Drive Train for Tidal Current Turbines” by ANDRITZ HYDRO with the objective to optimize the HS1000 turbine – a hub with single blade pitch and steel blades - was successfully completed in 2015 after running for more than two and a half years. Details of the project outcome have been published in the final report issued in September 2015. Three turbines of this design have been delivered to MeyGen project.

The EPoSil project, developing electro-active polymers (EAP) based on silicon for power generation was run by Bosch Rexroth with the aim to develop the EAP materials and manufacturing processes from 2012 to 2015. The wave energy application consists of a point absorber with a stack of silicone based electro-active polymer sheets as PTO. A point absorber scale model has been tested at the Hamburg model basin’s wave tank. The public final report was issued in 2016.

The NEMOS GmbH develops a wave energy converter consisting of an elongated floating body, which is braced by three cables to the ocean floor. Excited by the movement of waves, it transmits mechanical energy to the generator by means of a cable. The generator itself is positioned at the tower of a wind turbine above the sea water level. Since August 2015, the NEMOS 1:5 test device at the Nissum Bredning Test Station for Wave Energy, Denmark, operates in full automatic mode, feeding energy into the grid. In November, testing of the first full scale components started at the Institute of Mechanical Handling and Logistics at the University of Stuttgart. In December 2015, a floating service platform was prepared at the port of Hanstholm, waiting for tow-out in 2017 (re-scheduled) to be utilized for anchor drag tests and installation works (source:

Wave power developer SINN Power GmbH successfully installed their first wave power module at the Port of Heraklion, Crete, Greece, in late 2015, and has generated power from ocean waves during a long-term field test since May 2016. 12 months after the first commissioning, SINN Power has taken in the wave energy converter module for another round of upgrades. The goal is to maximize energy generation and further improve durability of all components in the ocean environment. The upgrades are expected to reduce costs, increase performance and improve structural stability. Among others, they include new generators with more power output, more efficient power electronics, cost-improved, shock-absorbing generator mounting and improved end-stop buffering to absorb the impact of high waves. After the winter break, the third-generation wave energy converter module will be reinstalled for another round of long-term tests. These advanced tests serve as preparation for the planned installation of the floating wave energy converter array, also planned to take place in the Heraklion area after coordination with the local authorities (source:

Other German suppliers, such as Bosch Rexroth, Schaeffler, Contitech, Thyssen Krupp, Hunger Hydraulik and Hydac deliver components and parts for a number of ocean energy devices – for wave as well as tidal turbine technologies, mainly in Europe. Certification companies such as the DNV Gl-Group and consultants are contributing to the technology and project development in the sector. This international collaboration demonstrates the technology export opportunities, which exist in ocean energy for the German industry.

In addition to the projects mentioned above, major German utilities are active in the ocean energy sector with test installations and prototypes around Europe. There is no ocean energy installation realised in Germany yet and no plans for installations have been published.

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is used as a decision making tool in all activities developed in the North and Baltic Sea. However, there are no defined areas for ocean energy in Germany and the MSP regime does not specifically consider ocean energy developments.

Nevertheless, areas for offshore energy power production have been specified and implemented by the Federal Government’s strategy to wind energy use at sea (2002), which is part of its overall sustainability strategy. This plan aims to create framework conditions for offshore wind energy potential to be exploited, in addition, the Federal Government’s Energy and Climate Programme (IEKP) of December 2007 formulates the goal of increasing the proportion of renewable energies in electricity production.

The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) has determined the targets and principles of spatial planning for the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the North and Baltic Sea with regards to economic and scientific use, safety and efficiency of maritime traffic as well as protection of the marine environment. The MSP covers all three dimensions of the marine space (surface, water column and seabed), and identifies specific zones for maritime activities. The spatial plan for the EEZ is available for public consultation in the libraries of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency.

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is the federal agency overseeing licensing for renewable energy projects in the EEZ based on the Maritime Spatial Plan for the North and Baltic Sea.

Within the 12 nautical mile limit, i.e. in the area of the territorial sea, the German coastal states are responsible for the approval of renewable energy, because an approval granted by the BSH for installations in the EEZ is not legally binding for approval procedures involving installations on land and in the territorial sea.

The BSH and the competent regional Waterways and Shipping Directorate also examine whether the project would constitute a hazard to navigation. For a wind farm project to obtain approval, the regional Waterways and Shipping Directorate must have consented to it under the aspect of navigation safety.

The Federal Energy Regulator (BundesNetzagentur) is in charge of approving applications for an offshore grid on economic grounds.

The approval procedure has the following steps:

• Competent authorities like the regional Waterways and Shipping Directorates and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation are informed about the project application and asked to comment;
• A project presentation is offered to the project planner during an application conference. An important aspect of the approval procedure is an early involvement of the German coastal states, which have to approve the laying of land feeder cables through the territorial sea for the transport of electricity to onshore substations;
• If required by the BHS, the applicant prepares an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a risk analysis to be reviewed by the BSH and if requirements are met the project is approved.

There is no specific authority responsible to manage the ocean energy consenting process (“one stop shop” facility or entity).

In the EEZ, the potential impacts of the planned facilities on the marine environment have to be assessed. An EIA is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The responsible for the decision on whether an EIA is required is the BSH. In the course of the approval procedure, the BSH reviews whether the marine environmental features to be protected are at risk by the project deployment and informs the project’s proponent if they are required to perform an EIA. As for offshore wind energy, the process is much clearer since offshore wind farm projects comprising more than 20 turbines require an EIA based on the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (UVPG).

There are also specific standards for the baseline and monitoring of offshore wind projects. In accordance with these standards, baseline and post-deployment surveys have to investigate impacts on features of conservation interest, i.e. fish, benthos, birds and marine mammals in order to determine their spatial distribution and temporal variability during three main stages:

• Pre-construction phase (baseline survey);
• To monitor the effects of construction, operation and decommissioning;
• To establish a basis for evaluating the monitoring results.

There are no specific EIA steps for ocean energy projects, therefore these projects are considered under the existing legislation for the offshore wind sector.

There are no well-defined procedures to obtain consent for ocean energy, therefore these projects are considered under the legislation designed to the offshore wind sector.

The legislation used to regulate offshore renewable energy deployments in the North and Baltic Sea is the Maritime Spatial Plan.

The consultation process starts upon the submission of the projects application to the competent authorities.

A larger number of stakeholders are involved in the process: the public has the possibility to inspect the planning documents. Mandatory consultees include all competent authorities (including the regional Waterways and Shipping Directorates, mining authority, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation) associations (e.g. nature protection, commercial and small craft shipping, fisheries, and wind energy associations) and the public.

Subsequent to the second round of participation, an application conference is held during which the applicant has the opportunity to present the project. Conflicting interests and uses are discussed, and the scope of investigations required to study possible effects on the marine environment is determined.

There are guidelines for the promotion of offshore wind energy use in accordance with the Federal Government’s sustainability strategy. These guidelines can provide helpful inputs for the developers of ocean energy projects.