Sales of offshore wind turbines collapsed in the first half, a sign the power industry and its financiers are struggling to meet the ambitions of leaders from Angela Merkel in Germany to Britain’s David Cameron.
One unconditional order was made, for 216 megawatts, 75 percent less than in the same period of 2011 and the worst start for a year since at least 2009, according to preliminary data from MAKE Consulting, a Danish wind-energy adviser. Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) of Denmark, the largest manufacturer, won the contract while Germany’s Siemens AG (SIE) was among those shut out.
That’s a setback for Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Cameron, who are targeting a 10-fold expansion in offshore wind to limit fossil fuel use and create jobs. Banks have curbed lending to developers as Europe’s financial crisis spread, and utilities held off on new projects because of delays in connecting existing ones to high-voltage transmission grids.
“The industry in Germany has been frozen for a few months because of grid issues,” said Jerome Guillet, the Paris-based managing director of Green Giraffe Energy Bankers, which advises on offshore wind projects. In the U.K., there’s a “lull” as the government moves to a new round of contracting, he said.
Those nations have the most projects. Connections to grids are being held up in both by a lack of investment, cable, engineers and ships capable of doing the work after European Union countries called on companies to build the world’s biggest collection of sea-based wind parks in the North and Baltic Seas.