According to the official statistics for the first half of this year, Germany has installed 1.7 GW of onshore wind and remains on course for a record level for the year as a whole. The main reasons are policy changes.
According to the data collected by Deutsche WindGuard on behalf of the German Wind Energy Association BWE and German engineering association VDMA Power Systems, 1,723 megawatts of new wind power capacity was installed in the first half of this year, 66 percent more than the 1,038 megawatts installed in the first two quarters of last year. And while the official press release does speak of “rush” brought on by policy changes, the strong growth is expected to continue this year, with a record 3,500 megawatts possibly being built in 2014 on the whole.
3.5 GW would be a new record for Germany. The current annual record is 3.2 GW set way back in 2002. Since then, 2.0 GW was more common, though the wind market had already picked up last year at 2.5 GW.
The organizations say that a number of policy changes account for this strong growth. One positive change was the recent set-asides of additional land for use as wind farms in a few German states. At the same time, project developers are rushing to complete wind farms because a number of upcoming changes are expected to slow down the market – or at least create more uncertainty.
One major change for wind power will be the transition from feed-in tariffs to a bidding process that has yet to be designed. Another will be potential restrictions on where future wind turbines can be built; each German state is to be granted more leeway in specifying the conditions for wind projects, and a couple of states obviously aim to slow down wind power considerably. For instance, Bavaria – the leading German state for photovoltaics – is considering a “10H” requirement, meaning that the turbines would have to be 10 times as far from the nearest building as the turbine is tall, effectively ruling out new wind turbines almost entirely in such a densely populated area.
The government also has an official target of 2.5 GW per year net (meaning that repowering is not included). While that target is in line with last year’s growth, it would be considerably lower than what is expected for this year.
Source: Renewables International. Reproduced with permission.