16 Jan 2024, 13:09
Benjamin Wehrmann

German onshore wind power expansion gets significant push in 2023 but auctions miss target

Clean Energy Wire

Onshore wind power was significantly expanded in Germany last year, when 745 new turbines with a capacity of more than 3.5 gigawatts (GW) were built across the country. “The buildout is gaining signification traction now,” the German Wind Energy Federation (BWE) said at the release of its 2023 expansion report. Almost 50 percent more turbines were installed than during the previous year, bringing the country’s total onshore wind power capacity to 61 GW. With about 7.5 GW in newly licensed capacity, the expansion appears to be on a solid footing for the foreseeable future. However, while auctioned volumes almost doubled in 2023 compared to the previous year, they still fell short of the earmarked auction volume of nearly 13 GW, the BWE said in a joint statement with engineering federation VDMA. About 4 GW could be expected in new turbine capacity in 2024, the groups said, adding that “only if policymakers stick to their reforms can the political goals be reached.” A lot still had to be done in securing construction areas, speeding up licensing procedures and facilitating the transport of turbine components. “There needs to be a legal framework that remains in place long term, also beyond the current legislative period” and in coordination between the federal government and the states, BWE head Bärbel Heidebroek said. “Only then can the wind industry unlock its full potential for becoming a sector that drives the economy forward,” she argued.

The associations urged the government to intensify its efforts to strengthen renewable energy industries across Europe to prepare the region for an “unequal competition” on global markets. Companies in Germany and Europe are facing largely state-supported companies from China and generously subsidised ones from the U.S. through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), VDMA head Dennis Rendschmidt said. “There has to be a level playing field to succeed in this environment. A basic requirement for this is a European framework that consolidates demand, creates fair competition within Europe (…) and strengthens the scale-up of production,” Rendschmidt argued.  The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) expects a worldwide addition of 105 GW onshore turbine capacity this year and 465 GW of new capacity until 2027, with more than half (241 GW) added in China, followed by Europe (87 GW) and the U.S. (50 GW).

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