Analysis: Enercon braced for uncertain future

GERMANY: Turbine manufacturer Enercon could be harder hit than other market players by the German federal government's plans for renewables.

Enercon managing director Hans-Dieter Kettwig
Enercon managing director Hans-Dieter Kettwig

The onshore wind sector is up in arms over planned revisions to the renewable energy act, due to be passed this autumn.

The federal economy ministry is now evaluating the several hundred contributions lodged in the one-month consultation phase that ended in April, and holding more talks with representatives from federal states and industry federations.

The wind industry is also planning demonstrations this summer to get its message heard.

As the draft law stood in early May, onshore wind’s role would be reduced to mopping up the remaining small amount of capacity after all other (and more expensive) renewables’ expansion to ensure strict renewables targets to 2025 are not overstepped.

After more than a decade as Germany’s dominant wind company, Enercon has the most to lose.

Enercon installed 1,376MW of new capacity in Germany last year — a 37% share of the market. But the planned revision of the renewable energy act could see the annual onshore wind market shrinking to no more than 1,300MW. Turbine makers would be fighting over a market volume that, in 2015, Enercon had accounted for on its own.

Germany’s onshore wind sector warns that this is too little to sustain the country’s industry and its wide spectrum of component suppliers.

Taking into account the federal economy ministry's own forecast for photovoltaic, offshore wind and biomass growth to achieve the target of renewables providing 45% share of electricity generation in 2025, onshore wind will be left with an average net growth of a mere 480MW a year.


The ministry expects 16GW of old onshore wind to be closed over the next ten years.

Their replacements, plus the net growth of 480MW a year, would allow an average of around 1.8GW a year in new installations, under the assumption that the new turbines will generate more energy than their predecessors.

But due to uncertainties in getting projects repowered under the new auction regime, turbines are likely to be run for as long as possible and their closures postponed.

According to Enercon, only about 8GW is likely to be decommissioned between now and 2025, which translates into only around 1.3GW of new annual onshore installations when the net 480MW is added.

"Lack of a minimum onshore wind expansion volume is poison for the industry's value-added chain and diversity of players," said Hartmut Kluge of the Bremer Landesbank, which has financed some 4GW of German onshore wind power since 1991.

"More onshore wind expansion is likely to be needed after 2021/2022 in Germany when all nuclear plants have closed, but by then the damage to the industry may be done," he said.

Enercon managing director Hans-Dieter Kettwig said: "If the overall onshore wind market in Germany drops below 2.0-2.5GW of installations a year, we'll have to see where we can compensate for this."

He warned that onshore wind could suffer the fate of the photovoltaic industry where manufacturing capacity and know-how has been widely transferred out of Germany.

Enercon would initially target stable country markets with a long-term perspective, where it can offer wind turbines and services with operating guarantees, including energy storage solutions and smart grid solutions.

But the company would also possibly consider markets that until now it has avoided, a company spokesman said.

A launch in the US would probably have to be undertaken with a different name to avoid a clash with American engineering company Enercon Services, which has nuclear, oil and gas, and environmental interests.

India has also been mentioned, though Enercon’s only activities there are confined to the courts in a long-running legal battle with its one-time partner Wind World India, formerly known as Enercon India until it was required by court decree in 2013 to drop the Enercon name. "India is predestined for involvement in renewable energies," Kettwig noted.

Enercon’s revenue dipped from €4.9 billion in 2014 to €4.5 billion last year, but is expected to recover to at least 2014’s level in 2016, according to Kettwig.

After a consolidated net income of €490 million in 2014, up from €472 million in 2013, the equivalent figure for 2015 was not divulged.

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