Germany's wind industry at risk of losing market to Chinese producers – metal industry
Welt am Sonntag
Please note: an earlier version of this blurb sent on 1 February incorrectly stated that Nordmetall is a labour union, whereas it actually is an employers' association.
German metal industry association Nordmetall has warned that the country is at risk of losing large parts of its wind power industry to foreign competitors if domestic expansion of the technology and other energy transition projects are not pursued vigorously, the newspaper Welt am Sonntag reports. Nordmetall head Folkmar Ukena told the newspaper that the wind industry must not meet the same fate as Germany's solar power industry, which largely succumbed to Chinese competition in the past decade. "We must preserve the wind power industry urgently," Ukena said, arguing that "overregulation" of the energy market and the absence of power transmission lines to bring wind power from the north to industrial centres in the south are among the biggest hurdles to the industry, the newspaper writes. Even though Germany has seen a modest turnaround in onshore wind power expansion last year, after it fell to the lowest level in two decades in 2019, construction levels were still much too low. Lower Saxony, for example, Germany's biggest wind power state, only added 54 new installations in 2019 and 48 in 2020. "That's an incredibly poor record," Ukena said. But the industry association head not only criticised lawmakers, also wind power companies would have to step up their game. "It seems we are incapable of reacting to strong international competition," he argued, warning that buying more and more parts from China because they are cheaper than domestically produced components would ultimately harm the entire industry. "This in the end will lead to entire companies with hundreds of employees going out of business."
The German wind industry, still among the largest exporters of the technology worldwide, has gone through several difficult years, which has led to problems for formerly fast-growing turbine producers and forced some, for example Senvion, out of business. With about 60,000 people directly employed in the industry and a total of around 120,000 people if linked economic activity is included, wind power was by far the most important job creator in Germany's renewable energy sector in 2019.