BASF and RWE to Build Wind Farm for Ludwigshafen

31.05.2021 - BASF and major German utility company RWE have signed a letter of intent to create a €4 billion, 2 gigawatt, wind farm at an undisclosed offshore location on the German North Sea coast by 2030. The chemical group, which will own 49% of the project to RWE’s 51%, will take four-fifths of the output, feeding energy mainly to its Ludwigshafen headquarters. The wind park is calculated to satisfy about a quarter of the site’s power needs.

BASF’s CEO Martin Brudermüller and RWE chief Markus Krebber said the project “shows how a cleverly planned transformation of Germany’s industrial sector can succeed.” The aim is to electrify the processes for basic chemicals currently produced with fossil fuel energy. Brudermüller said the wind farm will enable production of CO2-free technologies and power the electrically heated steam crackers furnaces BASF is developing in conjunction with partners such as Saudi Arabia’s SABIC and the now UK-based engineering contractor Linde.

The companies calculate that the wind farm could prevent the emission of 3.8 tonnes of CO2 per year, including 2.8 million t at Ludwigshafen, which is at the same time Germany's most energy-intensive industrial site and the country’s single largest electricity consumer. The mammoth site’s electricity consumption is estimated to triple by 2035.

RWE, which is already engaged in or pursuing wind energy projects in North Sea waters, including the UK, will design and build the turbines as well as operating the farm. The project will not draw on state subsidies but the partners will be looking for good will from German regulatory authorities to realize the project as planned.

In a  news conference call to introduce the plans, Brudermüller and Krebber spoke alongside Michael Vassiliadis, head of the German chemical industry trade union IG BCE. The trio stressed that the task of switching to renewable energy is only achievable with innovative and intensive cooperation between politics and industry, and it will require collaboration across value chains.

The German federal government will soon need to begin reviewing longer-term priorities for wind installations of the future, Brudermüller and Krebber noted. As the process unfolds, the two industrial heavyweights are pushing for new permits to be specifically tendered for industrial energy transformation processes. They are also looking for concessions on renewable energy from the new administration in Berlin that will be in place after this September’s national elections.

To this end, Brudermüller called on the political sector to exempt projects such as the wind farm from the renewable energy levy known as EEG and provide a suitable regulatory framework for CO2-free hydrogen production. Vassiliadis, who said the union stands behind the plans as the wind farm can be “a symbol for the innovative power of industry and its employees,” urged authorities to draw up a road map for the realization of renewable energy targets, while guaranteeing a favorable electricity price for industry of 5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist