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Germany

Germany

DECLADRED A GREAT SUCCESS, PROGRAMME ENDS

Nearly 30% of the more than 1000 MW of wind capacity running in Germany was supported by the 250 MW programme, now at an end. Over seven years, support was requested for nearly 10,000 wind turbines which, if all had gone ahead, would have added 2960 MW to the electricity supply. By late December 1995, 1225 applications for 1581 turbines totalling 356 MW had made it through the obstacle course. The two great strengths of the programme were its promotion of a broad spectrum of turbine types and its subsidy payment per kilowatt hour.

With the doors now closed for good on Germany's 250 MW wind support programme it has become clear just how important the scheme was for energising a market. Nearly 30% of the more than 1000 MW of wind capacity running in Germany was supported by the programme. The last surge of applications was received just hours before the programme closed at the end of 1995.

Altogether, some 5800 applications flowed into the Jülich Research Centre from 1989 to 1995, initially for the 100 MW programme, expanded to 250 MW by the Federal Research Ministry in February 1991, largely as a reaction to popular demand.

Over the seven years, support was requested for a grand total of nearly 10,000 wind turbines which, if all had gone ahead, would have added 2960 MW rated wind capacity to German electricity supply, or 1871 MW effective capacity at a wind speed of 10 m/s -- the criterion applied under the programme for measuring the likely actual capacity being connected to the grid. In the event, though, many applications were rejected or withdrawn and Jülich finally processed less than half, or 1800 applications.

As of December 22, 1995, a total 1650 applications were classed as provisionally successful. These covered 2135 turbines amounting to nearly 437 MW rated capacity (281 MW effective). Not all of these cleared the last hurdles, though. Over 400 projects fell by the wayside owing to collapsed financing, refused siting permission, and other problems. By late December 1995, 1225 applications for 1581 turbines, totalling 356 MW rated capacity, had made it through the obstacle course. Some 302 MW of rated capacity supported by the 250 MW programme was in operation, representing nearly 27% of total installed wind capacity in Germany.

Programme strengths

The two great strengths of the programme were: its promotion of a broad spectrum of wind turbines types -- some 67 models with nameplate ratings ranging from 2.5 kW to 750 kW were supported; and its subsidy payment per kilowatt hour, instead of a subsidy of the capital cost of each plant, which was only granted in exceptional cases. This policy has motivated operators to keep their wind turbines operating efficiently to maximise electricity output.

Initially the subsidy was DEM 0.08/kWh, reduced to DEM 0.06/kWh when the Electricity Feed Law came into force at the beginning of 1991, guaranteeing a standard payment for renewables power. Support from the programme is limited, however, to twice the project's capital cost when all public support and avoided electricity purchase costs are included. If this limit is reached, aid ceases.

With a support system rewarding high output, as much as 59% of the programme's wind capacity is installed in coastal areas where electricity yields are highest. This trend has slackened since 1994, though, with increasingly efficient technology making low wind sites more attractive while coastal sites have become jammed with turbines. By the first half of 1995, 75% of capacity installed under the 250 MW programme was sited in inland areas.

The programme mechanics will continue to run until 2006 as successful applications are required to submit operational data for their plant to the Institute for Solar Energy Technology (ISET) in Kassel for a period of ten years.

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