Enercon takes lead in France as plant size grows

FRANCE: Enercon took the lion's share of the French turbine market in terms of new installations in 2009, according to a report by the Renewable Energy Syndicate (SER) and French Wind Energy Association (FEE).

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The Germany-based manufacturer supplied more than 350MW during the year, representing 32.8% of the market (see chart below). Overall, the company now accounts for around one-fifth of the turbines turning in France, narrowly ahead of Vestas, Nordex and Repower.

The size of wind power plants being built in France is growing, the report notes. This follows the removal in 2007 of the 12MW cap, above which plants were not eligible for the premium purchase price. As a result, the average capacity of installations has increased from under 6MW in 2003 to 16MW today. SER and FEE expect the trend to continue to reach 20MW at the end of 2010.

Nevertheless, the French wind resource remains largely under exploited. Looking at the density of wind power plants, expressed in terms of kilowatt per square metre, the report reveals France is behind its neighbours. Density is highest in the Aude (44kW/m2), followed by the Pas-de-Calais (37kW/m2).

The figures will increase to 83kW/m2 in the Eure-et-Loire and 75kW/m2 in the Meuse when permitted projects are taken into account. However, this is still low compared to Germany, for example, where density reaches 166kW/m2 in Schleswig Holstein. This is partly a reflection of the size of the French wind resource, which allows for a wide distribution of plants throughout the country, the report notes.

According to the grid operator RTE, installed capacity for all forms of electricity production grew by 2.6GW in 2009. Nearly half of this was accounted for by wind energy. While production overall declined in 2009 by 5.5%, the output from wind power plants grew by almost 40% to reach 7.8TWh during the year. This represents 1.6% of total electricity consumption and an increase of 2TWh over 2008.

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