20 Feb 2020, 14:09
Benjamin Wehrmann

Failed auction illustrates 'dramatic' struggle of German wind power - industry

Clean Energy Wire

Germany's first renewable power auction of 2020 has once more failed to attract enough bidders for onshore wind power projects, leading industry groups to call for a “breakthrough” in the country's energy transition policy. "The energy industry expects a swift reaction from the government and a law on renewable power expansion that is adopted as soon as possible," said Kerstin Andreae, head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). In the auction, only 527 megawatts (MW) were awarded out of the 900 MW available, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzAsaid. During the auctions, companies submit bids based on the amount of government support the projects will require. The average support level of successful bids stood at 6.18 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), slightly more than in the previous auction. Andreae said the latest auction shows the "dramatic" situation Germany's onshore wind power industry is in, adding that the government must find a solution for the protracted debate over minimum distance rules for newly built wind turbines. "The energy industry urgently needs clarity on which instruments the government plans to use to counter the slump in wind power expansion," she said. Andreae said the government needs to make sure sufficient land area is available for new wind turbines and to remove regulatory hurdles in the licensing process.

The German Wind Power Association (BWEsaid the auction highlights the need for action to make sure wind power can play its role as the central pillar of Germany's future energy system. "The government has to act now," said BWE head Hermann Albers, arguing that the economy ministry must come through on the list of tasks it had outlined in 2019 regarding wind power. Albers also called on the government to provide enough land area, quicker licensing procedures and simpler regulation of so-called repowering measures, where old turbines are replaced with newer ones at the same location.

The parallel auction for solar power, on the other hand, ended up being clearly oversubscribed, the BNetzA said. Bids for nearly 500 MW were submitted for an auctioned capacity of only 100 MW and the average support level dropped to 5.01 ct/kWh from 5.69ct/kWh in the previous auction. The lowest successful bid only required 3.55 ct/kWh, a new national record, according to pv magazine. BDEW head Andreae said the results for solar power were "uplifting" but "cannot make up for the expansion gap in wind power.” She urged the government to quickly remove the support cap for solar power, which could impede further expansion of the technology if it remained in place.

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