Market-economy instrument required for older turbines

GERMANY: A new mechanism is needed to encourage ageing turbines nearing the end of their existing support to stay online, BWE president Herman Albers has argued.

Hermann Albers (left) in talks at Husum Wind 2017 (pic: BWE)
Hermann Albers (left) in talks at Husum Wind 2017 (pic: BWE)

Of Germany’s 50GW onshore wind energy fleet, some 14GW will be removed from the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) feed-in tariff support system over the period 2021-2025. Roughly 4GW, supplied by 6,000 wind turbines, out of this total will exit in 2021 alone.

The outlook for these turbines to continue operation despite their low electricity production costs looks poor unless legal hurdles and restrictions are lifted.

"We want these turbines to have the chance to continue operating so there is no fall back on expensive and climate-damaging lignite," Herman Albers, president of German wind energy association BWE said at this week's Husum Wind 2017 event (12-14 September).

The act contains some arrangements allowing turbines to continue operation.

But with continuing low wholesale electricity prices, "an economic perspective needs to be developed, through the bundling of electricity volumes, creating new contractual arrangements directly with customers, and opening up new potential in the mobility and heat sectors," he said.

BWE is concerned about the future of small and medium-sized enterprises, which have driven the development of the German wind energy sector. 

"The fall in prices arising out of the misguided German auction design", he said, adding that the regulatory clamp down on wind energy growth "makes real project finance increasingly difficult."

"The errors created by the EEG need to be swiftly corrected, but clearly a market-economy instrument has to replace it," Albers stressed. 

This must also ensure a geographic spread of wind projects and make financing possible, he added.

Among the changes needed for this follow-up instrument, politicians have to improve the route to "sector-coupling" of wind-generated electricity with the mobility and heat sectors.

The current "timid arrangements" in the EEG for wind-generated electricity, which otherwise has to be curtailed "can only be the beginning," he said.

He also called for an effective minimum price on CO2 — aside from the European CO2 emissions trading  system — to secure fair competition between renewable energies and fossil fuels. This would speed up penetration of renewables into other sectors and help achieve climate targets, Albers said.

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