'Things can't remain as they are' says Kettwig

GERMANY: No big strides in business volume can be expected at Enercon, Germany's leading onshore turbine manufacturer, over the coming years.

Around 2,000 Enercon turbines will end their 20-year support period in 2020

"We are no longer pitching for 4GW a year. Stability is our aim; we have homework to get done," said Enercon joint managing director Hans-Dieter Kettwig at the international Hanover industry trade fair in late April.

The company’s immediate focus is on developing new products to the prototype stage, becoming more international, and preparing a future for the growing number of turbines in Germany that are going beyond their 20-year support lifetime, said Kettwig.

Enercon’s 3.5MW E-126 EP3 turbine goes into pre-series production in August, and installation of an E-138 EP3 prototype is also scheduled for this year, with series production starting in Q3 2019.

In parallel, following Enercon’s acquisition of Lagerwey early in 2018, a 4.3MW L-147 prototype is scheduled for installation late this year with series production planned for 2019.

This will be followed by prototype installation of a 4MW L-160 model in Q4 2019 with production ramp-up expected in 2020.

Kettwig declined to comment on whether and when Lagerwey will be fully absorbed into Enercon.

International outlook

Reacting to growing market pressure in Germany, Enercon is seeking to extend the company's international footprint internationally

The company has set up procurement hubs in Montreal in Canada, Viano do Castelo in Portugal, Sorocaba in Brazil, Istanbul in Turkey, Taipei in Taiwan and Posen in Poland.

"Markets like France and Turkey want more local content. We have to decide what is to be done where — to keep core competence in Germany and distribute other activities … Things can't remain as they are," said Kettwig.

To date, Enercon has 40 exclusive production facilities in nine countries, plus 369 service stations worldwide looking after 24,500 wind turbines.

Among other developments, Enercon has opened new offices in India and South Africa.

In France, where it has established two new training centres in the Hauts-de-France region, Enercon aims to raise installations from around 450MW in 2017 to around 600MW in 2018 and 850MW in 2019, according to Kettwig.

By the end of 2017, Enercon had installed 48.3GW of wind capacity worldwide, with 46% (22.2GW) in Germany, 40% (19.3GW) in other European markets, and 14% (6.8GW) in the rest of the world.

Domestic issues

Enercon installed 3.6GW in 2017, 2GW of which was in its home market, but what Kettwig described as the "market disruption" in Germany is likely to lead to a sharp fall in new installations in the coming years.

The company predicts only 2.8GW of new capacity to be installed in Germany in 2018, falling to under 2GW in 2019 as a result of the problematic design of onshore wind auctions during 2017.

German onshore wind agency Fachagentur Windenergie am Land (FWL) is more optimistic, expecting around 3GW of new onshore capacity in in 2018 followed by 2.5-2.8GW in 2019.

But FWL agrees with Enercon that the slowdown in regional wind planning is creating a growing problem.

A virtual moratorium is playing out in windy northern Schleswig-Holstein due to legal problems that have caused the lengthy state regional planning procedure to be carried out afresh.

Bavaria, in southern Germany, has set new setback guidelines — the distance required between wind turbines and domestic dwellings — that are so stringent that only four applications for permits were lodged last year.

Regional planning problems combined with wildlife conservation and other factors is blocking 2.5GW of projects for Enercon, claimed Kettwig. "Protected species are establishing themselves in wind farms, and this rules out a permit for repowering," he said.

Integrated solutions

Enercon is stepping up its efforts to become more than a turbine supplier, offering electricity storage and electric vehicle charging stations, together with electricity marketing experties.

Its electricity trading subsidiary Quadra markets electricity from 5.1GW of German renewables generation capacity (mainly onshore wind), making it the fourth largest player in the sector.

The wind-electricity market is often coupled to Enercon’s EPK full-maintenance concept, to which Quadra is now offering a new add-on, EPK 20+.

Enercon and Quadra offer to analyse ageing wind farms, design a marketing concept for the post-20 year support period including cost-free retrofit of turbines to enable remote control, and where possible organise repowering.

Enercon sees 2,000 of its turbines ending their support period from 2020 with, in all, some 4GW falling out of the support system that year and beyond that 2.4GW per year.