BERLIN/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - Institutional investors led by U.S. energy transmission developer Anbaric Transmission are interested in pumping up to 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) into linking German offshore wind farms with the mainland.
Anbaric could act as an intermediary for potential European and U.S. investors willing to help finance up to four offshore network link projects of grid operator TenneT, an Anbaric spokesman said on Monday.
"That would be a reasonable first package," he said.
A spokeswoman for TenneT TSO, the German arm of Dutch state-owned firm TenneT, said there had been "an exchange of information, but no more".
Anbaric earlier this month denied it was planning to bid for Tennet's German unit.
TenneT bought Germany's biggest power grid in 2009. It is used mainly by E.ON.
The Anbaric spokesman said on Monday that TenneT would remain the operator as Anbaric had no interest in that role.
TenneT has come under political and financial pressure over delays in linking off-shore wind farms with the mainland.
Germany aims to boost renewables to 35 percent of its power output by 2020, with over 10,000 megawatts of offshore capacity installed by then.
A fresh setback to the process came at the weekend, when one of the biggest foreign investors in German wind energy, Denmark's DONG Energy, said it has frozen plans to develop the Borkum Riffgrund 2 wind farm on the North Sea coast of Germany.
DONG said TenneT had failed to provide a fixed date for when offshore power cables could be installed.
TenneT has defended its record repeatedly, saying it has invested billions and is being overstretched by taking on full costs of investment in offshore cable links on its own. It has called on the German government to clarify long-term plans and liabilities.
On Monday the German parliament discussed a proposed bill to clarify issues related to liability in the case of offshore wind farms and representatives of Germany's ruling coalition made clear that they wanted to make concessions to industry.
"The existing solution cannot stay as it is," Joachim Pfeiffer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat (CDU) party, told Reuters on the sidelines of the expert hearing on the bill.
Above all the government wants to help Tennet and other possible investors in questions of liability, with electricity consumers helping to reduce the risk by making advance payments.
But industry representatives said the coalition's proposal did not go far enough yet.
RWE Innogy said before the discussions that a reliable legal framework for German offshore was needed soon.
Its Nordsee Ost project has been delayed by between 18 and 24 months due to delayed links to transmission networks onshore. ($1 = 0.7674 euros)
(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, Rene Wagner and Markus Wacket; Writing by Vera Eckert and Michelle Martin; editing by Jason Neely and William Hardy)