BWE calls for coalition-promised tender volume increase

GERMANY: The German Wind Energy Association (BWE) has called for the implementation of proposals from the federal government's coalition agreement in an effort to save jobs.

Germany energy policy is to blame for "thousands" of job cuts, the BWE claim (pic credit: Wikimedia Commons/Cezary Piwowarski)
Germany energy policy is to blame for "thousands" of job cuts, the BWE claim (pic credit: Wikimedia Commons/Cezary Piwowarski)

Energy policy and a lack of clarity are to blame for the loss of "several thousand" jobs in the country’s wind industry in the past year, according to the BWE.

Capped volume tenders, and slow progress in grid expansion and clearing permitting backlogs are plaguing the German wind industry, the body claimed.

The organisation added that clarity on grid expansion in the south of the country was needed, as was the implementation of plans to boost new wind allocations by 4GW in 2019 and 2020.

The tendering procedure introduced in the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) limited annual capacity allocations to 2.8GW for 2018 and 2019, and to 2.9GW in 2020 and beyond.

Additionally, tender rules have previously favoured so-called ‘citizens’ groups’ less likely to install the capacity they are allocated.

This has led to declining installation volumes and also the loss of jobs needed to sustain this development, the BWE claimed.

In 2017, 5.3GW was installed, but it expects new installations to fall to 3.5GW this year, and then to a maximum of 2GW in 2019 and 2020.

"No industry in Germany can cushion a politically induced market slump by almost two-thirds, without pronouncing layoffs," said BWE president Herman Albers.

"To ensure that this industry know-how is not lost in the long-term, the federal government must finally overcome its internal disputes and implement the commitments from the coalition government as quickly as possible."

A BWE spokesman told Windpower Monthly there had been "several thousand" job cuts made in the German wind industry in the past year.

Notably, Enercon announced plans in August to cut more than 800 jobs at its exclusive suppliers in Germany, cutting declining installation figures and a slump in orders in its home market.

The BWE added a coalition agreement commitment — made in February following Germany’s election, but as-yet not implemented — to increase annual tender volumes by 2GW in 2019 and 2020, would help boost installations and save jobs.

The spokesman told Windpower Monthly: "The industry is hoping for this and planning for this — we are talking about investments and staff planning."

Permitting and grid expansion

Permitting also remains an issue, the BWE added. CEO Wolfram Axhelm had previously said that legal proceedings and longer approval periods were delaying the process and preventing developers from entering tenders.

The BWE said lower tender volumes created a "Catch 22"-type situation with permitting ahead of auctions: "If we don’t have visibility of the capacity, we don’t have permits, and if we don’t have permits we will not make the capacity a reality."

Similarly, efforts to grid expansion to solve the north-south bottleneck in Germany have been hampered by lawsuits and protests on the ground, the BWE added.

The government's grid expansion plan was published in August, but final legislation will not be released until later this autumn. 

The BWE spokesman said: "We have made very little progress. Work has more or less stopped in the first half of 2018."

Windpower Monthly has approached Germany’s federal ministry for economic affairs and energy for comment, but has not received a reply.

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