The year is coming to an end, encouraging us all to reflect on the last twelve months. What have we accomplished so far, and what do we still want to achieve? This year, again, the analysis is positive: Cuxhaven is forging ahead.
As should be the case for a multipurpose port, different kinds of cargo played a key role in this success. In terms of ferry service, for example, cargo volumes were consolidated, and we estimate moderate growth of about five per cent in the automotive area. Because the terminals in these areas are operating at almost full capacity, significant growth in future will only be possible after the plans to expand cargo handling capacities are implemented. Bulk cargo handling is also very important: supplying offshore wind farm construction sites and material procurement for renovating the Nordholz Airport surfaces kept the port busy.
Indeed, offshore wind was extremely valuable to Cuxhaven in general in 2014. After having already made a name for itself as a port for producing foundations and tower segments, this year Cuxhaven was able to successfully establish itself throughout Germany and Europe as an installation and service port for offshore wind projects. I'd like to highlight, in particular, the outstanding Amrumbank West and Meerwind Süd/Ost projects. For the Amrumbank West wind farm, for example, foundation structures and cables for 80 turbines were handled, temporarily stored and shipped from the offshore base port. It was an impressive feat, accomplished thanks to the cooperation of the Cuxhaven Port Association (HWG) members.
Starting this year, Cuxhaven also has a key role in the provision- and disposal-concepts for the Siemens high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission platforms, which convert the alternating current produced by wind turbines into direct current for low-loss transmission to the shore. Our port has excellent conditions for these kinds of projects, in no small part thanks to its location. Platforms in the North Sea can be reached easily and quickly without long river navigation. Direct access to our quays and the ability to handle the transhipments immediately after the vessels dock are also ideal selling points. On top of that, we are proud to have a competent, efficient and varied maritime cluster, from shipping agency and customs services to cargo handling and safety training, which offers an extensive range of services related to offshore wind energy.
While we\\\\\\\'ve been hard at work on the current projects, however, offshore wind farm investors over the last two years have experienced great uncertainty about what future offshore policy regulations may be, with particularly heated debates about electricity price limits, feed-in tariffs, grid connections and so on. As a result, no new projects have been approved, which led to low capacity utilization at production facilities and offshore terminals on the German coast of the North Sea, a consequence that is still being felt today.
With its amendment to the EEG (Renewable Energy Act), the German government has responded to long-standing demands and provided the reliable framework needed to expand offshore wind farms – for the next two to three years. This solution is temporary, however, because starting in 2019 new offshore wind farms will likely have to undergo tendering in a process whose structure and mechanisms today are completely unknown and still need to be discussed extensively. This could again lead to more reluctance from investors, resulting in a lack of projects and orders for manufacturers and ports.
More negative effects will come from the 40 per cent reduction in the offshore wind energy expansion target for 2030. Renowned research institutes have released studies showing that an 80 per cent share of renewable energy can be achieved by 2050 only with a large amount of consistently generated offshore wind energy, which is able to provide base load quality. Also, the potential for cost reductions can only be tapped with a full, reliable project pipeline. And there are, of course, many other good reasons for a significant expansion of offshore wind, such as the high reliability of power generation thanks to the relatively strong and constant winds out at sea, the reduction in dependence on imported fuels and, last but certainly not least, securing a spot as a technological leader, which would in turn ensure thousands of qualified jobs. Now that Germany has reduced its 2030 expansion target by 40 per cent, however, this young industry will instead be significantly slowed down. Here in Cuxhaven, we can see this first hand, not only in the production facilities, in the port and with maritime service providers, but also in downstream sectors such as gastronomy and retail. In light of this situation, we are joining together with other associations to call on the federal government to at least return to the previous expansion target of 25 GW by 2030.
In 2014, the offshore wind sector has nevertheless made significant progress and demonstrated its impressive potential, and the HWG network has played an important role in that. Offshore wind investors now know that in Cuxhaven they have at their disposal capable partners and, thanks to support from the State of Lower Saxony, excellent infrastructure for their projects.
And that is exactly what we plan to continue working on next year. In February, a declaration of intent regarding the construction of Berth 4 in the Europakai port terminal laid the groundwork for further growth and additional jobs here. The next few months will see more discussion of the construction of this urgently needed new multipurpose berth.
Cuxhaven must fully utilize its potential, and in 2015 our Port Association will continue to dedicate itself to that goal. We look forward to working with you to continue the positive trends of the past and implement our plans for the future.
May we all enjoy much drive, determination and success in the coming year.