Germany scraps support plans for old wind turbines over state aid concerns
Zeit Online / Tagesspiegel Background
The German government has cancelled planned auctions for old onshore wind turbines to secure continued operation after their 20-years feed-in tariffs run out, Zeit Online and Tagesspiegel Background report. According to the energy ministry (BMWi), this is due to concerns over illegal state aid by the European Commission, which is currently scrutinising Germany’s latest version of the Renewable Energy Act. A temporary support payment to old wind parks during the pandemic has been permitted by the Commission, but further payments as of 2022 and the planned auctions have been cancelled. The BMWi reasons that, as of 2022, power prices will be stable at around 5 cents per kilowatt-hour again, so that wind installations can achieve enough revenues by selling their electricity on the market.
German Wind Energy Association BWE said that the late completion of the 2021 EEG in December 2020 meant that many wind parks had to come up with alternative funding anyway, since they couldn’t wait for the government’s support decision. The energy ministry stated that out of 3,500 megawatt of installed onshore wind capacity that lost feed-in remuneration in the beginning of 2021, only 90 megawatts (MW) had ceased production. Seventy percent of these installations (2,300 MW) have not applied for follow-up funding but found ways to directly market their power. The government cabinet wants to propose changes to the EEG 2021 in the coming weeks, as further decisions of the EU Commission are still pending.
Feed-in tariffs were introduced with the country's Renewable Energy Act (EEG) in 2000. They granted renewable power investors secure cash inflows for a period of 20 years. With the guaranteed funding period approaching its end for the first pioneer projects in 2021, operators increasingly need to look for alternative ways to keep their wind and solar power installations running at a profit. Industry association Deutsche Windguard has calculated that by 2025, some 16,000 MW will face the end of their 20 years guaranteed feed-in payments. The German government aims to have a share of 65 percent renewables in power consumption by 2030, up from around 45 percent in 2020.