In May 2022, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) officially concluded a climate and energy partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). The aim is to accelerate climate protection measures, develop and apply suitable technologies for this purpose, and promote climate policies in third countries as well. Since then, four working groups have been meeting with experts to advance German-American cooperation.
Working Group on Offshore Wind pushes ahead with transatlantic partnership
In the offshore wind sector, the German Offshore Wind Initiative (GOI) with the working group 'Offshore Wind' under leadership of Prof. Dr. Martin Skiba, contributes specifically to the transatlantic partnership: on the one hand to avoid capacity bottlenecks in the supply chain and on the other hand to promote the important transfer of knowledge.
On this year's delegation trip to the USA, Minka St. James, Head of Business Development, once again represented the Schmidbauer Group. At the beginning, a meeting with the President of the AFL-CIO, Liz Shuler, was organized in Washington, DC together with the Erneuerbare Energien Hamburg Clusteragentur GmbH (EEHH). In the meeting the support in the cooperation with European companies was underlined.
Afterwards, the German delegation of the AHK in Washington offered discussion opportunities and assistance to the participants from politics and business. Jakob Eckardt, Consultant in the energy policy at adelphi, presented the findings of a think tank on the supply chain gaps and challenges that have emerged in offshore wind energy (OSW), which is a critical component of both countries' ambitious energy transition goals. Among other things, the study makes clear that 'strong supply chain capacity development and clear, reliable regulatory frameworks are needed to achieve the 2030-targets in Germany and the U.S.'1
Inflation Reduction Act as an important lever for climate protection
Consequently, there was a need to talk about the much-discussed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). In the USA and internationally, the IRA it is respected as an important lever for decarbonization and climate protection. However, industrial and trade policy risks for Germany and Europe should not be completely disregarded: The bonuses enshrined in the Act could be expected to have implications for investment and trade flows in renewables, which would have a decisive impact on supply chains and technology deployment. In contrast, the IRA offers increased attractiveness in the U.S. renewables market due to the profit capture mechanisms adopted in Europe and the associated investment uncertainty.
The panel discussion at the kick-off of the 10th International Partnership Forum (IPF) in Baltimore, Maryland, focused on these and other topics. On the occasion, the GOI had invited to a 'Beer & Brats' event in the local beer garden. Together with representatives from Liebherr, Voith and DES-Offshore, Minka St. James was able to report on Schmidbauer's experiences as part of the supply chain in the realization of projects for the energy transition. The panel answered questions around how German companies want to drive the transfer of know-how and the still large backlogs of renewables in the U.S. as part of the partnership, without writing in the jobs and profits themselves.
All about offshore wind energy: Top topics at the IPF
During the IPF conference, which focused primarily on offshore wind energy, these topics were addressed in depth, with the fight against climate change taking center stage. The advantages and disadvantages of ever larger and heavier turbines were lively discussed, as were the effects on the entire ecosystem, the involvement of schools to counteract the shortage of skilled workers, the expansion of power grids, the possible centralization of regulations, and also hydrogen was among the topics addressed. White House Energy Advisor Ali Zaidi, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and others spoke with much inspiration and leadership as the economic and social aspects of the new energy transition industry in the U.S. offers great opportunities for the economy, jobs and wider spread common prosperity.
Outlook: Learnings from the IPF
During the IPF show, many new contacts emerged, old ones were strengthened, and Minka St. James even had the opportunity to stimulate the value chain with a local school class: although she admonished the students to cram math and be on time, the spark of enthusiasm jumped at the prospect of being a heavy lift crane driver or engineer and take part in this important generational mission.
The USA is rich in natural assets to successfully implement the energy transition with wind, water, and sun. We may be able to spare our partner some stumbling blocks with the lessons learned, many challenges we can hopefully solve together, but there is clearly much to learn from the U.S. approach.
One thing is certain: political, community and trade-transatlantic (knowledge-) exchange is indispensable to achieve global climate goals together for the future of our planet.
PS: In between, a traditional hand-blown beer mug from the Schmidbauer ancestral gallery was awarded during a quiz on the world-famous Munich Oktoberfest. With much joy the proud winner from Texas was awarded with the mug.
Source: 1 Offshore Wind Supply Chains in the US and Germany | adelphi
For more Information:
Deutsch-amerikanische Energiekooperation | Bundesregierung
German Offshore-Wind Initiative – Meldung (germanoffshorewind.org)
U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (adelphi.de)
Offshore Wind Supply Chains in the US and Germany, Policy Recommendations and Collaboration Opportunities, Eckardt, Jakob; and Bastian Stenzel, 2023 Berlin: alelphi
U.S.-Inflation Reduction Act – Analyse von Chancen und Risiken durch Kosten- und Förderungsvergleich zwischen USA und DE für EE, H2 und EVs, Jakob Eckardt; Bastian Stenze; Jannik Hoehne; Marie Münch