Offshore wind energy, with its huge gigawatt projects, and solar energy, with rooftop photovoltaic systems which often have a capacity of only one hundred kilowatts or less, are two areas of renewable energy which could hardly be more different. Nevertheless, both of these types of renewable energy face very similar challenges: building and expanding a value chain and securing the skilled workers required for these projects. Two examples from our network make this clear.
Hamburger Energiewerke (HEnW) will start training its own employees as solar technicians this year, which you can read more about in this newsletter. The reasons for this are quite simple. For one thing, the city of Hamburg plans to build photovoltaic systems on as many municipal properties as possible. In fact, the city is required do so in accordance with the photovoltaic system obligations in Hamburg. However, it is very difficult to find trade companies to do this, particularly due to the fact that small trade companies are often unable to quickly install 100-kilowatt class photovoltaic systems – and of course also due to the shortage of skilled workers everywhere.
The second example from offshore wind energy is highlighted by the “Hamburg Offshore Wind 2023” conference, which we are holding in person in 2023 for the first time since the pandemic. Offshore projects generate thousands of times more output than those described above. But the question remains the same: How can we implement a value chain for offshore wind in Germany which allows us to come even close to the Federal Government’s highly ambitious expansion targets for 2030? There is also a shortage of skilled workers in this situation, despite the fact that many offshore wind farms need to be built around the world.
The solutions in the field of solar energy are certainly different to those in offshore wind energy. But one thing is clear: Companies and stakeholders such as professional associations, universities and schools need to work with federal and state politicians to break new ground. They need to take more risks, but also pursue a more long-term strategy. Smaller and short-term initiatives will not be sufficient.