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Wind energy as an economic factor: In Germany, around 100,000 people work in the wind energy industry.
© KGW Schweriner Maschinenbau GmbH
Domestic market drops by 19 per cent relative to the year before
26.01.2011

Annual balance for wind energy generated in 2010

Contrary to industry expectations, the German market for wind turbines did not grow in 2010 but shrunk by a fifth. According to surveys conducted by the German Wind Energy Institute (DEWI), 1,551 MW of wind capacity were newly installed last year. These figures were announced by the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) and the Association of German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers (VDMA) on Wednesday in Berlin. This represents a 19% decline compared with the previous year. At the end of 2010, a total of 21,607 wind turbines were rotating in Germany, with a total capacity of 27,214 MW.

“The German market is therefore once again at the level of 1999. The collapse of the onshore market has been caused by knock-on effects for large-scale projects resulting from the financial crisis and uncertainties regarding the grid requirements for wind turbines,” emphasised Thorsten Herdan, Managing Director of VDMA Power Systems. “Furthermore, despite new land development rights in several German states, the room available for new wind turbines continues to be cut back. Spacing regulations and height limits are hindering an efficient expansion of wind energy on land,” added Hermann Albers, President of the BWE.

Repowering offers potential

In comparison with the previous year, last year saw growth in the replacement of old wind turbines with new and more powerful ones, known as repowering. According to the DEWI surveys, last year 116 wind turbines with a total capacity of 56 MW were replaced with 80 wind turbines with a total capacity of 183 MW. “Repowering still offers immense potential. By 2015 at the latest, more than 9,500 wind turbines will be ready for repowering,” emphasised Albers. “That corresponds to a potential investment volume of 40 billion euros.”

Offshore market growing

Offshore wind energy also exceeded the installation figures for the previous year. In year two of the German offshore market, a total of 108 MW were newly installed in the Baltic 1 and Bard 1 projects. “Although the expected growth of 150 MW was not achieved, at least the 100 MW threshold has finally been surpassed. You simply have to realise that offshore is a new technology, its development takes time and that the available funding volumes are limited. But we’re on the right track. For 2011, 300 MW is probable given the progress of the projects,” explained Herdan.

Export markets becoming more important

Export markets are becoming increasingly important for the German wind industry. “We assume that China has further grown in 2010. However, the important US export market has halved to 5,115 MW. The threatened expiry of the Production Tax Credits at the end of 2010 and the ongoing debate about changing the funding mechanism to a quota model – the state-based, so-called Renewable Portfolio Standard – have further worsened the investment conditions,” said Herdan, summarising the situation in the US market.

“A situation similar to that in the USA in 2010 must not happen in Germany in 2011. With the amendment to the German Renewable Energy Sources Act, the investment conditions in the domestic market must not be curtailed but strengthened again. That means that uncertainties in the legislative process need to be avoided just as much as when implementing grid requirements for wind turbines,” said Albers.

A lack of certainty is also poisonous for other European markets. The further development of the European grid infrastructure and the energy policy framework are decisive for a successful expansion of wind energy. “The discussion about harmonising the subsidy systems for renewable energies runs counter to any successful expansion of wind, sun and Co. within the EU,” emphasised Albers. He feels that there first of all needs to be a complete and rigorous implementation of the EU directive, which was just recently introduced in 2009, so as not to endanger the EU’s expansion goals. “Premature harmonisation could lead to uncertainty in the important markets. This must be avoided in the interest of the German and European wind industry,“ pleaded Herdan, directing his comments at Brussels.

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