The “virtual study trip” format was implemented for the first time as a (provisional) replacement for a four-day physical study trip originally planned for the same week, with stops in Berlin, Cuxhaven, Helgoland and Hamburg, which could not take place due to the pandemic. The program already planned in detail for the physical study tour was systematically adapted to the requirements of a virtual format by the project partners RENAC and adelphi. This included meticulously prepared moderation, 18 live surveys for the participants, four working groups in which the participants worked out their own insights from the event, break-out rooms for networking during the breaks, and continuous support for the collective chat function with in-depth bilateral chats with individual participants.
The exclusive exchange was attended by decision-makers and experts from the US offshore sector, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Maryland Energy Administration and various authorities from New York City and New York State. There were also participants from the grid sector (ISO New England, New York Transco, PJM Interconnection), from non-governmental organizations (NERC, VMA, MAREC) and from the private sector (RWE, The Business Network for OSW) as well as a senator from the New Hampshire State Senate.
Experts from the BMWi, German authorities, associations, TSOs and companies gave informative presentations, answered questions from participants and used the coffee breaks for networking. The exchange focused on the regulatory and political framework for offshore wind energy in Germany, grid and spatial planning for offshore wind energy, the local economic effects of offshore wind energy and the outlook for 2030 and 2040.
Feedback from participants
“Excellent, very good, better than expected” – this was the extremely positive feedback from the participants. All participants confirmed that they were able to achieve the knowledge gains that they had expected in advance. 95 percent of the participants would again participate in such a virtual format.
One concern in the run-up to the event was that without the personal discussions and on-site visits, the study trip would severely impair the overall experience of the participants. The survey results show that this was not the case. The loss of physical experiences was compensated by an increased focus on knowledge transfer, meticulous preparation and professional implementation. In some regards, the virtual format has even proven to be superior. For example, the “time-performance ratio”, i.e. the relationship between time invested and knowledge and contacts gained, is more favourable from the point of view of some participants.
Background information on the event
The event was organised by adelphi, the Renewables Academy (RENAC) and the German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC) as part of the project “Supporting Germany’s Energy Dialogue with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA” on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).