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Germany beats UK in Ernst & Young offshore rankings

Poland makes good progress, France falters

A nation-by-nation assessment of which countries are moving ahead most rapidly with offshore wind development sees Germany top the rankings, closely followed by the UK.

Germany’s determination

The determination shown by Germany’s federal government to overcome delays in expanding the offshore electricity network has clearly influenced Ernst & Young’s (E&Y) decision to award the country top ranking in its offshore wind index.

Germany’s operational offshore wind capacity "remains low", acknowledges E&Y, but with legislation on offshore cable liability due to enter force this year and the introduction of a "binding" offshore grid development plan, the country’s leaders are sending the right signals to investors.

Other offshore wind leaders, according to Ernst & Young’s latest Renewable energy country attractiveness index, are:

- UK

- China

- Denmark

- Belgium

- France

- USA

- South Korea

- Sweden

UK confusion

The UK government’s plethora of recent energy policy announcements has offered "little clarity" to investors, says E&Y. Although offshore wind remains highly favoured by UK policymakers, and 1.1GW of new offshore capacity recently won final approval by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), there has been growing unease about the government’s "ambiguous messages" and "lack of clarity and detail" when issuing new policy.

Potential investors in UK offshore wind projects are increasingly frustrated by slow progress in defining the incoming contracts for difference (CfDs) regime and are, perhaps, unnerved by UK finance minister George Osborne’s apparent support for gas over renewables.

Polish and Danish progress

Two countries picked out by E&Y for progressing their offshore wind sectors are Poland and Denmark. The former is taking its first steps toward exploiting its Baltic Sea wind resources, with the government awarding preliminary development permits to five projects, with a combined capacity of 4.5GW.

Meanwhile, Denmark is seeking to maximise offshore wind electricity generation, in order to ensure compliance with new, more ambitious renewable energy targets for 2020 and 2050. About 500MW in new near-shore capacity is to be installed by 2020, while a tender to develop the 400MW Horns Rev III project will be unveiled next year.

Uncertainty in France

France has a stated goal of achieving 6GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020, but this will not be met. E&Y cites an EDF report forecasting just 3.9GW being constructed – but not fully commissioned – by that date.

While no announcement has been made, the French government is not expected to accept bids for development of the country’s second round of offshore wind projects until next year.

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