RWE divestment of Nordsee Ost may be on horizon

Cable delays threaten financial viability

It may only be a question of time before German energy company RWE sells its flagship German 295MW offshore wind project, Nordsee Ost.

An assessment of the project’s slow progress by Peter Terium, incoming RWE chief executive, and reported by German business magazine, der Spiegel, gives the impression that a divestment could be on the cards.

In Terium's view, "massive delays" in the cable connection to shore means that "the economic feasibility of the project is in extreme danger".  The magazine also reports that RWE "cannot shoulder responsibility" for delays that mean "we can't produce electricity, don't earn any money and don't reap in the investment in the time foreseen."

Speaking with Windpower Offshore the day after the der Spiegel interview with Terium was published, an RWE spokeswoman stressed that "there is no basis to speculation about a project sale," but could not comment on whether RWE now expects a much reduced return on investment or whether the project will be allowed to operate in the red.

Commenting on RWE’s situation at Nordsee Ost, Willi Balz, owner of German renweables developer Windreich, told Windpower Offshore that it "proves that a competent medium-sized company can achieve more than a not-so-competent energy concern".

"The rules and criteria on getting a cable connection were first published by the federal energy regulator Bundesnetzagentur - these had to be read and understood," added Balz.

Windreich is on schedule with its 400MW Global Tech 1 project, intending to ship the offshore station transformer station next month, one month ahead of schedule.

As for the cable delay that has hit RWE's project, the much-needed HelWin1 576MW offshore cable to shore will be completed "during the course of 2014," Ulrike Hörchens of Dutch transmission system operator Tennet told Windpower Offshore.

The HelWin1 cable is designed to connect RWE Innogy's 295MW Nordsee Ost and WindMW's Meerwind offshore wind project. Siemens is building the HelWin1 cable for Tennet and informed its clients last November that there would be an 8 month delay. This spring, Siemens made it known there would be a further delay.

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