German wind power grew by 660 megawatts in the first half of this year

German wind energy industry dominates global export numbers, but at home, wind turbines installations are slowing down. An unusually long and harsh winter has slowed down wind power growth in Germany, Hermann Albers, the president of the German Wind Energy Association, said in Berlin.

Installed wind energy capacity grew by 660 megawatts in the first half of this year, down from around 800 MW in the first six months of 2009.

German Wind Energy Association predicts that 1,900 MW worth of wind turbines will be installed this year, a decline from 1,917 MW in 2009, when the crisis had already begun to affect the industry.

Yet while the German onshore wind farm market with more than 26,300 MW of installed capacity is largely saturated, companies including Siemens, REpower and Enercon remain successful abroad. Exports accounted for 75 percent of the sales German wind energy companies generated in 2009, the association said.

"This underlines clearly that the German wind power industry has kept its leading position in the global market," said Thorsten Herdan, the head of the German Engineering Federation unit VDMA Power Systems. "Wind energy made in Germany is sought after all over the world, especially in the key markets Europe, North America and Asia."

The companies active in the German wind power industry employ around 100,000 people and last year generated sales of more than $6.1 billion, accounting for roughly 17.5 percent of the global market.

The European Wind Energy Association last month unveiled its forecast for 2010, saying that 10,000 MW worth of wind power capacity will be installed in Europe this year, nearly the same as last year.

VDMA Power Systems expects global capacity to grow by 38,000 MW this year, a small decline compared with the 38,343 MW of new installations in 2009. Herdan said the stagnation in 2010 is due to the global economic downturn and slower-than-expected growth in the United States.

Numbers indicate that only 1,300 MW of wind power came online in the United States during the first half of this year, Herdan said. "With half-year levels like this we will have to expect for 2010 a decline (in new installations in the United States) by nearly half compared to what we had last year," he said.

Yet for the German industry, the U.S. market is only one of two growth opportunities. The biggest global installation growth will happen in Asia.

China in 2009 installed 13,000 MW of new wind power capacity and could add another 18,000 MW this year, figures from industry group Global Wind Energy Council indicate.

Several large European and U.S. wind turbines manufacturers have a presence in China, including General Electric, Denmark’s Vestas, Nordex and Siemens Wind Power of Germany and Gamesa of Spain. While they controlled most of the market five years ago, they are now faced with increasingly fierce competition from domestic suppliers, like Sinovel and Goldwind.