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28 Jan 2020, 13:37
Benjamin Wehrmann

Calls for roll-out compromise as data confirms Germany's wind power collapse

Clean Energy Wire

The expansion of onshore wind power in Germany has reached the lowest level in 20 years, figures by the German Wind Power Association (BWE) confirm. With only 243 turbines and a capacity of 0.9 gigawatts (GW), net expansion in 2019 was the lowest since introduction of the country's Renewable Energy Act in 2000, down 55 percent compared to 2018, and minus 80 percent compared to 2017. BWE head Hermann Albers said it was high time that the government coalition found a compromise on wind power and ensured that construction hurdles were removed. "It's almost impossible to obtain licenses anymore," Albers said, arguing that an agreement between the government and the states was needed by this spring.

About 4 GW of existing wind power capacity will reach the end of the 20-year support period at the end of 2020 and may therefore be taken off the grid. The association is urging lawmakers to ease repowering legislation to replace old turbines with newer models at the same location. "Existing installations are usually built at the most economic and accepted places," Albers said. With a gross expansion of just over 1 GW from 325 turbines, expansion was much lower than the 1.5 GW expected by the BWE and far below the 5 GW per year the lobby group says are necessary to cover rising power demand while achieving the targeted renewables share by 2030. The expected maximum expansion for 2020 is 1.8 GW.

Together with engineering association VDMA Power Systems, the BWE reiterated its call on the government to reconsider the controversial 1,000-metre minimum distance rule for new turbines. The sweeping construction ban would diminish the available space for expansion by 40 percent. Matthias Zelinger, head of VDMA Power Systems, said the expansion slump's effects had already made themselves felt on employment, with manufacturers reducing production and staff numbers. "If the market keeps stagnating in this way, the drop in domestic demand alone could threaten a quarter of all remaining jobs." Without a strong home market, Germany's producers may no longer be able to defend their leading market position, Zelinger warned.

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