18 Jan 2023, 13:07
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany auctions record onshore wind capacity to compensate slow 2022 rollout

Clean Energy Wire

The expansion of onshore wind power capacity in Germany in 2022 again remained below the level required for reaching the country’s renewable power targets, a shortcoming that the government seeks to address by auctioning the highest-ever onshore wind capacity this year. A total of 2.4 gigawatts (GW) in about 550 turbines were installed in the past year, while the auctioned volume for 2023 of 12.8 GW is more than five times higher, the German Wind Energy Federation (BWE) said. While the expansion was 25 percent higher than in the previous year, the buildout in 2022 still does not match with the country’s ambitious 2030 target of 115 GW onshore wind capacity. The total installed capacity in 2022 was roughly 58 GW. As Germany’s most important renewable power source, onshore turbines generated nearly 20 percent of the country’s electricity last year, and almost 25 percent if offshore wind turbines are included, the BWE stated.

Dennis Rendschmidt, head of engineering industry federation VDMA, commented that both the federal government and Germany’s states must make greater efforts to achieve a higher and more consistent expansion. “Construction sites need to be provided, licensing bottlenecks must be overcome, transports have to be eased and certification obstacles be removed,” Rendschmidt said, arguing that “the measures taken so far are not enough.” The licensing of new projects currently takes nearly two years on average, which is why, rather than announcing new targets, policymakers had to make sure implementation of projects must take place fast, the VDMA leader said. The government’s Easter Package for renewable power generally pointed in the right direction, but changing structures in regional administrations continued to be a time-consuming challenge. However, reaching the targeted expansion volumes in the next years still remained “very much possible,” if licensing levels pick up soon. While shortages of skilled labour and raw materials continued to be a challenge for the industry, “the bottleneck is not on the producers’ side,” Rendschmidt said. 

Northern states once again led the expansion ranking by a wide margin, while southern German states continued to fall behind in installed wind power capacity. “To reach the targets, we will need all states to do their part,” BWE head Hermann Albers said. By 2025, nearly 12,000 turbines with 14.5 GW capacity will drop out of the guaranteed remuneration scheme. Replacing old turbines with newer ones - often referred to as "repowering" - could increase output at these locations four times, Albers stressed. According to the BWE, the auctioned volume is unlikely to be matched by awarded projects. At least 10 GW should ultimately be licensed this year, the federation argued. Even though the new government under chancellor Olaf Scholz had achieved a “turnaround” in promoting onshore wind, reaching the targeted volume could become a challenge, given that the much smaller auctions in 2022 were repeatedly undersubscribed. Achieving greater implementation speed remained paramount for the wind industry, Albers added. “We need the speed shown in building LNG (liquefied natural gas) infrastructure also for wind power.”

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