German wind energy stands at 29,075 MW

The country’s 2011 results were a huge improvement on those of 2010, when only 1,551 MW of capacity was installed – the lowest figure since 1999. The ZSW (Zentrum für Sonnenenergieund Wasserstoff-Forschung) confirms that the 895 wind turbines installed added 2007.4 MW of wind farm capacity in 2011. If we subtract decommissioned wind turbines (123 MW) and replacement work on obsolete wind turbines (238 MW), German wind energy capacity stands at 29,075 MW.

The country’s wind power output soared after a long spate of becalmed winds in 2010. December’s particularly high winds boosted output, reaching a record level of more than 8 TWh, so output should be at least 46.5 TWh, which is 10 TWh more than in 2010.

The wind energy sector’s importance in Germany’s energy mix – it should rise to 8% in 2011 – calls for more investment by the grid operators to upgrade the grid in the regions where there is a sizeable wind energy share so that the sector’s output can be fully harnessed.

A recent report by the Ecofys consultancy claims that during the year 2010 approximately 150 GWh of wind power output was lost, following the grid operators’ perfectly legal decision to disconnect wind turbines to avoid overvoltages. The study claims that there are 1 085 disconnections in 2010 (which was a mediocre year for wind energy) compared to just 285 in 2009.

Policy-wise, the unchanging incentive system has kept the onshore wind farm sector ticking over on low in anticipation of the offshore
sector’s programmed capacity build-up, for very few changes have been made to the feed-in tariffs under the terms of the new renewable energies law applicable from 1 January 2012.

The onshore wind power tariff is set at € 0.0893 per kWh for at least the first five years of service. From then on the tariff will be paid out in line with the site’s productivity (for an additional 0 to 15 years), after which basic compensation of € 0.0487 per kWh will apply until year 20 of operation. A “System Service” bonus of € 0.0048 per KWh may be added for wind turbines equipped to adapt to grid requirements. A further “Repowering bonus” of € 0.005 per kWh will be granted when a wind turbine installed before 2002 is replaced.

Offshore wind farm operators have a number of options open to them – either a guaranteed feed-in tariff for 20 years, levied at € 0.15 per kWh for at least the first 5 years. Continuation of this tariff will then depend on the site’s productivity (for an additional 0 to 15 years), after which basic compensation of € 0.035 per kWh will apply until year 20 of operation.

The new EEG law 2012 allows developers to opt for shorter contract terms, and this applies to wind farms commissioned before 2018. They can thus opt for a guaranteed feed-in tariff of € 0.19 per kWh for 8 years or a guaranteed FiT of € 0.15 per kWh for 12 years.

The government has also factored in the offshore segment’s late development by staggering the annual 7% tariff reduction over time from 2018 onwards. Offshore wind energy today at 215.3 MW is small fry yet the government has great ambitions for it and plans to have 10 000 MW of capacity connected by 2020 and to increase this figure to 25 000 MW by 2030. The future is full of promise with approximately 8 500 MW of projects already approved and 1 700 MW of turbines already ordered.

The German government has decided that the German development bank (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau – KfW) will finance the first ten offshore wind farm projects to up to 5 billion euros, to accelerate the process. WindMW GmbH will be the first company to benefit from this funding, when it installs the Meerwind Ost and Meerwind Süd offshore Wind Farms. The two wind farms with combined generating capacity of 288 MW will receive 570 million euros of funding from KfW. Construction is scheduled for the beginning of 2012, and the end of works for 2013.