Germany onshore wind energy growth slowed sharply in 2019

Germany saw a sharp fall in the number of new onshore wind turbines installed last year, industry groups said on Tuesday, urging the government to do more to boost numbers this year.

Wind power is one of the most important drivers of Germany’s transition to renewable energy and a related target for green energy to reach 65% of electricity production by 2030 will be missed at the current rate of turbine growth, engineering group VDMA and wind energy association BWE said.

“The industry estimates that, given that power demand is growing, an expansion (of onshore wind) by 5,000 MW per year is essential in order to reach the 65% target by 2030,” they said in a joint statement.

Their data showed operators installed only 1,078 megawatts (MW) of new onshore capacity in 2019.

This was 55% less than in 2018 and the lowest annual increase since the start of the renewable feed-in law of 2000 (EEG), which guaranteed wind turbines support payments.

The two groups predicted new constructions of 1,400-1,800 MW for this year.

The wind farm installed total at the end of December 2019 was 53,900 MW.

“A trend reversal will only by possible if the government reduces the stumbling blocks to permissioning and avoids new hurdles,” they said.

There are plenty of challenges. Local citizens often hold up construction of new wind turbines near residential areas; there is much red tape at state level; and operators are uncertain about future profitability.

Some 4,000 MW of existing turbines will fall out of 20-year fixed EEG payments by the end of 2020, the two groups noted, while new capacity stands to make more modest rewards after a competitive auction system was introduced in 2017.

Some lower earnings will be partially compensated by cost savings as scale advantages and efficiencies have also risen substantially.

The two associations said Germany risks losing wind power jobs and falling behind EU rivals and overseas competitors in the battle to lead the global industry.