Wind power in Germany in 2009

Despite the financial and economic crises, the German wind energy market recovered and experienced 15% growth during 2009. Last year, 958 wind turbines totalling 1,917 MW of wind energy capacity were added to the German fleet, including 136 MW repowering and 60 MW in wind farm offshore.

Germany still leads Europe with a total installed capacity of 25,777 MW. 38 TWh of wind power were generated in Germany in 2009, in a wind year that was below average, accounting for about 7% of the country’s net power consumption.

All renewable energy sources combined produced around 17% of Germany’s electricity needs, with wind being the largest single contributor within the renewable energy mix.

The average size of the wind turbines installed during 2009 was above 2 MW. The leading manufacturer in Germany is Enercon with a market share of 60.4%, followed by Vestas (19.5%) and REpower Systems (8.8%).

The highlight of 2009 was the installation of the first German offshore wind farm, the test site Alpha Ventus with 12 wind turbines of 5 MW each, which are now delivering electricity to the mainland.

More offshore wind farm projects are planned for 2010. The German turbine manufacturing and supply industries are strongly export oriented, with the biggest German manufacturers exporting around 80% of their production.

Today, around 30% of the world’s wind turbines are manufactured by German companies. The wind energy industry achieved a turnover in Germany of around 2.9 billion € in 2009 for new installations, including export as well as installation, operation and maintenance services in Germany, and it now provides employment for around 100,000 people.

The leading federal state in Germany in terms of installed capacity is Lower Saxony with 6,407 MW. A number of states now receive 40% or more of their electricity from wind energy, including Saxony-Anhalt (47%), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (41%) and Schleswig-Holstein (40%).

The policy environment for wind power in Germany


An early feed-in law for wind-generated electricity has existed in Germany since 1991. The Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz / EEG) came into force in 2000 and still provides the main stimulus for the German wind market.

The EEG stipulates a fixed feed-in tariff for each kWh of power produced and fed into the grid from renewable sources. In addition, electricity produced from renewable energy sources is given priority for grid connection, grid access in both distribution and transmission grids, and power dispatch.

For wind energy an ‘initial tariff’ is fixed for at least five and up to 20 years. It is reduced to a ‘basic tariff’ depending on how local wind conditions compare to a so called ‘reference yield’. Wind installations on very good sites (reference yield of 150%) receive the initial tariff for example for five years, while for turbines on lesser sites this period can be extended.

The tariffs are paid for 20 years. No compensation is granted for turbines with a reference energy yield of less than 60% to avoid installation of wind turbines on sites with poor wind conditions.

On 1 January 2009, an amended EEG with new higher tariffs came into force, which strongly stimulated market growth. The initial tariff for onshore wind energy was increased to 9.2 cent/kWh (up from 8.7 cent/kWh), and the basic tariff was set at 5.02 cent/kWh.
There is an annual degression of 1% for new installations every year. For offshore wind energy, the tariff was increased to 13 cent/kWh plus an additional ‘sprinter bonus’ of 2 cents/kWh for projects which come into operation before the end of 2015.

The initial 15 cents/kWh will be paid for a period of 12 years, and then decrease to 3.5 cents/kWh. The tariff is extend for projects in deeper waters and further from the coast.

Offshore tariffs will annually decrease by 5% for new installations starting from 2015. In addition, a bonus for improved grid compatibility (system service bonus) was introduced, which will become effective in July 2010.

Wind turbines in compliance with this standard earn another 0.5 cent/kWh on top of the initial remuneration. A special tariff (repowering bonus) was maintained for replacing turbines which are ten years or older with turbines with at least double the rated capacity in the same or a neighbouring county.

This has already led to a small but visible increase in repowering projects during 2009. Grid operators are obliged to feed in electricity produced from renewable energy and buy it at a minimum price within their supply area. Furthermore, the new EEG requires grid operators to extend, optimise and enhance the existing grid. Failure to comply with this can lead to claims for damages by anyone willing but unable to feed in.


In addition to the EEG, the German Federal Building Code continues to represent a key regulation for wind power development in Germany.

Under this law wind energy plants are categorised as ‘privileged projects’, and local authorities are required to designate specific priority zones for wind energy development. However, this means that they can also restrict construction to specific areas (exclusion zones).

According to the EU Renewable Energy Directive Germany has an overall target of 18% renewable energy in final energy consumption by 2020. For the electricity sector the government’s target is for more than 30% of renewable electricity by 2020. But the German Renewable Energy Association (BEE) estimates it could be as high 47%, which would include 25% wind power.

The new German conservative-liberal government has announced that it plans to discuss and publish a new energy concept by the autumn of 2010. This concept is to determine the future energy mix and to pave the way for a 100% renewable energy supply in the coming decades.

At the same time, Germany is reconsidering the plan announced by the former social democrat/green government to phase out nuclear power. Contrary to this previous plan, the new government is expected to prolong the running time of existing nuclear power stations in Germany, which is causing serious debate between the government and the renewable energy industry, but also municipal energy suppliers (Stadtwerke), who fear that their access to the electricity system could be blocked if this happened.

Future trends – Repowering and offshore developments

Repowering can and will play a stronger role in Germany in the future. Studies and first projects in coastal areas estimate that repowering has the potential to double the amount of onshore wind capacity in Germany with significantly fewer wind turbines and to triple the energy yield.

Despite the high technical potential, repowering in Germany is proceeding at a slow pace because most wind turbines have not reached the age deemed economical for repowering, which is after 15 years of operation.

At the end of 2008, only 152 MW of capacity were old enough, and repowering in 2009 accounted for 136 MW of new installed capacity. Nevertheless, repowering is expected to increase significantly after 2010, and by 2015, more than 6,000 MW of currently operating turbines will be older than 15 years.

In many regions, however, height restrictions inhibit the placement of newer wind turbines designed to yield maximum energy from a given site, which also affects repowering. Modern turbines with hub heights above 100 meters can reach capacity factors of 35% on the German mainland, and 45% in coastal and mountainous areas.

In order to maximise Germany’s potential, the government and some federal states have indicated their willingness to rethink the framework conditions and to discuss these with local and regional planning authorities.

The Federal State of Hessen e.g. has changed the planning rules last year to open parts of forest for wind development, and is currently rethinking height restrictions.Offshore developments and obstaclesProjections for offshore wind energy in Germany predict a capacity of about 400 MW by 2010, and 3,000 MW by 2015.

Most German offshore wind farms will be built 20-60 km away from the coastline in waters 20-40 meters deep. Thus far, the national maritime authority and the federal states have licensed 24 wind farm projects, with an overall capacity of close to 7,000 MW.

The costs for connecting offshore wind farms to the mainland grid must be assumed by the transmission systems operators (TSOs), and the TSOs have started to plan connection lines for clusters of offshore projects.

To date, only one connection (400 MW HVDC light) is under construction, but three more have been licensed.Future developments – 2010 and beyondFor 2010 the German wind industry expects new installations of about 2,300 MW capacity, including 300 MW of offshore capacity.

Offshore wind farm projects are expected to play a larger part in annual capacity growth over the coming years. The main impetus for growth, however, will continue to be from new onshore developments and repowering. According to calculations from the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), the overall German onshore capacity could be 45,000 MW, with an additional 10,000 MW of offshore wind by 2020.