End in sight for Germany's onshore boom

GERMANY: A total of 4,625MW of new wind capacity was installed onshore in Germany during 2016, a net gain of 4,259MW after taking into account the dismantling of 336 turbines with a combined capacity of 366MW.

Germany's onshore wind capacity grew by 4,259MW during 2016
Germany's onshore wind capacity grew by 4,259MW during 2016

Germany’s onshore fleet reached 45,911MW from 27,270 turbines at the end of last year, acording to Deutsche Windguard data, presented by German wind energy association Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE) and the Power Systems division of German engineering federation VDMA on 7 February.

The 2016 additions were 24% up on 2015 when 3,731MW was installed (3,536MW net), but slightly down on the record gross addition of 4,750MW in 2014.

The organisations forecast a similar performance in the "transition years" of 2017 and 2018, when the current system in which the state fixes support rates for renewables gives way to an auction mechanism.

The amount of capacity put up for tender has been fixed at 2,800MW (gross) annually in 2017-19, rising to 2,900MW a year from 2020.

In the transition period, all wind projects permitted by the end of last year and commissioned before the end of 2018 are entitled to the state-defined support rates and will not have to participate in auctions.

By the end of last year, around 8,500MW of developments had been permitted, most of which are likely to be installed over 2017-18, according to Rainer Baake, chief economics minister.

Relying on data published by the federal energy regulator, BWE and VDMA Power Systems reported a lower figure of 6,128MW of permitted projects. They predict that 4,500-5,000MW is likely to be installed in 2017, and 3,000-3,500MW in 2018.

In 2019 only projects that have been successful in auctions will be developed, and installations are expected to drop below 3,000MW. This will partly depend on how many citizens’ projects, which are allowed four years’ for implementation rather than the two years for commercial developments, are successful.

Beyond 2020, depending on how many wind turbines are decommissioned after reaching the end of their 20-year support period, the 2,900MW gross cap on auctions could mean that Germany’s onshore wind capacity will shrink, said Hermann Albers, BWE president.

"The wind industry will work to increase exports to compensate for a shrinking German market," said VDMA Power Systems managing director Matthias Zellinger.

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