Germany extends wind power project execution deadline

In lieu of a complete lockdown, Germany issued stringent restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus through social distancing measures, closure of border, schools, and non-essential businesses on 22 March. The government announced further easing of containment measures with the exact timeline to be determined at state level on 6 May, with re-opening being subject to an “emergency brake”.
Consequently, no factories in Germany have closed and there has been a relatively small impact to the wind energy workforce as a result of COVID-19 measures. Recently, the Bundestag Parliament of Germany has approved an amendment to the country’s 2017 Renewable Energies Act (EEG) to ensure COVID-19 pandemic does not lead to delays in the energy transition. Under the amendment of EEG, a six-month extension to project deadlines is permitted for the construction of wind or solar farms to mitigate delays caused by the lockdown restrictions. This six-month extension also applied to projects scheduled to be commissioned by the end of June 2020.

Due to the significant impact of the crisis on the global supply chain , Germany’s federal network agency BNetzA announced on 23 March that they will allow onshore wind developers that were successful in the country’s previous auctions to delay project implementation in a non-bureaucratic manner. The BNetzA agency further ensured that they plan to move forward with the planned auctions of 4 GW of onshore wind in 2020, although the winners will not be publicly announced so that project deadlines do not come into force immediately.
As per GWEC Market Intelligence, two of these tenders have already taken place this year, auctioning 900 MW and 300 MW of onshore wind capacity. However, both bids went undersubscribed, with 573 MW and 151 MW awarded with an average tariff of 61.8 and 60.7 EUR/MWh respectively. The COVID-19 crisis should not be viewed as the primary cause of the undersubscription of these tenders, as the country’s concurrent solar tender and other tenders for wind power in France and Italy that took place during the lockdown have been oversubscribed.  Rather, the issue of undersubscription for Germany’s onshore wind projects has been pervasive over the last year, and is primarily due to difficulties in permitting at the state-level.