Is offshore already competitive? Analyzing German offshore wind auctions


Two German offshore wind auctions in 2017 and 2018 saw more than 50% of winning capacity with “zero bids”. The nature of these surprisingly low bids is, however, not yet clear. In our paper, we discuss four hypotheses for possible causes for the auction results, namely (i) the bids are expected to be profitable due to market development and technological progress, (ii) bids can be perceived as “options to build” that can be realized if projects are profitable, (iii) bids are adjusted to secure grid access, and (iv) other long term reasons not primarily driven by the profitability of the winning bids. Our results suggest that there is evidence for all hypotheses to influence the decision making of auction bidders. In fact, we suggest to see the four hypothesis as cumulative value components, which reveal the true value of winning the auction at “zero cost” in aggregate.