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German Wind Energy Market Faces Implosion


Last year alone, more than 2,000 employees in the German wind energy sector lost their jobs.

Locations like Carbon Rotec in Lemwerder or Powerblades in Bremerhaven have been closed. The Hamburg wind turbine manufacturer Senvion had to sack 660 full-time employees. Nordex, the second largest wind power company based in Hamburg, intends to cut up to 500 jobs due to eroding profits. And Enercon, the German market leader with more than 20,000 employees worldwide, recently announced “unpopular measures” to cut costs…

Since 2017, the construction of new wind turbines has been regulated via tenders in which companies must compete with each other for the amount of subsidies they receive. The volume is set at 2,800 megawatts per year. Because of a loophole in the rules it is doubtful whether this limited extension will take place at all.

To prevent a supposedly threatening oligopolistic dominance in the market, the federal government has chosen special rules for so-called citizen wind companies. They may, for example, bring projects into the auction process for which they do not yet have any certificates (BImSchG) and have significantly longer time to realise their projects. This has fatal consequences.

In 2017, more than 95 per cent of onshore tenders went to such wind farms which now have four and a half years to actually build their parks. “For 2019 and 2020, a significant gap is expected, which can lead to massive slumps in industrial policy, but also affects planners, project managers, logistics and the service sector,” the Federal Wind Energy Association (BWE) in Berlin warns. In order to prevent a collapse, the BWE is calling for auctioning an additional volume of 1,500 megawatts in two out of four tenders this year.

Translation GWPF

Full story (in German)