September 17, 2012 / 2:12 PM / 5 years ago

TenneT says EU backs it to link German offshore wind to grid

* TenneT says EU Commission supports it for certification

* This should clear hurdles for its offshore cables in Germany

FRANKFURT, Sept 17 (Reuters) - German power grid operator TenneT said it had won support from the European Commission for its role in linking Germany’s fast expanding offshore wind parks to the mainland, after allegations it was causing excessive delays.

Tennet said on Monday the Commission had stated that certification for TenneT, required under new EU regulations, should not be denied on the basis that the company cannot at present show it has adequate financial means for the mammoth task of linking up all new offshore wind plants.

The Commission’s stance is likely to persuade Germany’s energy network regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BnetzA) to let TenneT reorganise and seek partners with access to the necessary funds, said TenneT board member Lex Hartmann, referring to a documents from the European Union executive.

“We are confident that we will meet all the necessary conditions for a certification,” he said.

TenneT is keen to demonstrate its abilities after coming under pressure over delays to wind park cables, which it is legally obliged to provide in time, and a lack of investors to provide the huge outlays needed for the job.

TenneT, whose Dutch parent bought E.ON’s German high voltage grid in 2009, has always argued it needs time and a secure legal framework to complete the unexpectedly huge task arising from Germany’s hurried shift to renewables.

Germany last year decided to ditch nuclear power fast and to have more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity installed by 2020, compared with just 550 MW already installed.

This is part of an ambitious plan to derive 35 percent of all power from green sources such as wind and sunshine by 2020.

TenneT has invested six billion euros ($7.89 billion) within two years in offshore wind connections, ensuring that 5.5 gigawatts (GW) or half of the planned total offshore capacity can be brought onshore, it has said.

It is in talks with financial investors to bring in more money by buying stakes in cable projects, having secured two deals earlier this year with Mitsubishi Corporation .

BnetzA had called Tennet’s certification into question because of the technical and cost overruns that some of the projects faced, and because of unresolved questions over liability concerning the risks of building wind platforms at sea.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, which has steered the transformation of the energy system and wants it to work, last month approved a draft law to pass on certain liability costs to consumers, removing one deterrent for potential investors.

This eased the burden on TenneT and its sector peer 50Hertz of being solely responsible for failure to meet connection deadlines. ($1 = 0.7606 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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