Experience with wind power auctions: From German community wind energy to the Austrian supply industry

In the course of the event “windrichtungen” (wind directions) of the Austrian Wind Energy Association IG Windkraft, Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General of the World Wind Energy Association WWEA and Stefan Schafferhofer, Director of the Business Unit Wind Energy of ELIN engines reported on the consistently negative experience with auctions in the wind sector. “After two years of disastrous experiences in Germany and other negative international examples, it must now be clear to everyone that auctions prevent wind energy expansion rather than promote it,” notes Gsänger.

Due to changes in the policy framework for wind power, Germany has sent a shockwave to the wind industry throughout Europe. Since 2017 alone, more than 35’000 wind energy jobs have been lost only in Germany. Senvion, a big windmill manufacturer, is bankrupt. All manufacturers released personnel in recent months. Just last week Enercon, the largest German manufacturer, announced further layoffs of 3000 people. Thus, the German wind industry has lost a quarter of its employees in just three years. “Since the change in the support system in Germany has started, the market has literally collapsed,” explains Gsänger: “This development is not surprising. Similar developments have occurred in other countries that have switched their support system to auctions. “

Community energy is fighting for survival

Community energy is inextricably linked to the rise of wind energy in Germany. Without the many community energy projects, Germany’s pioneering position would be unthinkable. A detailed analysis of recent years now shows that the community wind farms have been marginalized (https://wwindea.org/blog/2019/09/02/german-government-clearly-misses-all-three-self-imposed-goals-associated-with-auctions/). “This is a fatal flaw, because community energy plays a central role in the acceptance of the energy transformation,” says Gsänger. After many successful years, the German wind industry is now deeply in crisis. By September 2019, just 514 megawatts of wind power capacity had been built, which corresponds to an 81% drop in construction in just one year. The last auction rounds have been drastically undersubscribed, the last round in October even by 70%. “This is a more than alarming situation,” commented Gsänger.

International experience comparable

Not only in Germany, the wind power has suffered through the introduction of auctions. “It’s always the same picture. Regardless of whether one is looking to India, Turkey or Germany, with the introduction of auctions, the wind power market collapses “, explains Stefan Schafferhofer of his international experience, and he adds:” The consequence of this is missing installation targets and the loss of thousands of jobs. “

Supply industry directly affected

This development also has an impact on the Austrian supplier industry. Due to the slump in the amount of equipment, the wind power manufacturers can supply themselves completely in-house and the suppliers are losing a lot of orders. This has a direct impact on jobs. “In 2018 alone, we therefore had to reduce 25% of our personnel in series production,” reports Schafferhofer.

Framework conditions are decisive

“The results of the WWEA study and the experience from the Austrian wind industry show once again that changes of the support system must be made very carefully”, Moidl notes: “It is to be hoped that the mistakes made internationally will be corrected as soon as possible.” Austria has been waiting for years for a change in the remuneration system. Due to the premature end of the previous government, this has been postponed again. “From the international experience, Austria must draw the right conclusions and avoid the same mistakes,” concludes Moidl.