Husum 2019: Germany's gloomy reality

"If this goes on, we'll have phased out wind energy long before lignite and coal."

The Husum Wind trade fair and congress takes places 10-13 September 2019
The Husum Wind trade fair and congress takes places 10-13 September 2019

Husum Wind, the flagship trade fair for Germany in its 30th year, welcomes exhibitors from 25 countries from 10-13 September 2019.

Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, the UK, France and the Netherlands are being represented alongside companies from China, the US, and India, from the components, materials, service and maintenance sectors.

The trade fair boasts an upbeat "future-oriented platform for product innovations, networking and practical knowledge transfer".

But the reality in Germany is gloomy.

The energy transition is in full swing. The last remaining nuclear plants are being closed to 2022, and coal and lignite are to follow to 2038 at the latest, with renewable energies supposed to leap in to fill the breach.

Wind sector order books should be full, said IG Metall, the German metalworkers trade union, ahead of the event.

Yet Senvion slid into insolvency in April 2019 and revenue at Nordex, Enercon and Siemens Gamesa is dwindling.


Over 74% of workers council representatives at 31 companies representing 22,600 employees quizzed in IG Metall's regular annual survey expect the wind market in Germany to worsen over the coming months.

In 2018, only 65% were as pessimistic, and just 17% in 2015.

It’s easy to see why the mood has soured. Compared with 1,800 newly installed onshore wind turbines in 2017, just 86 were commissioned in the first half of 2019.

"If this goes on, we’ll have phased out wind energy long before lignite and coal," said one representative.

The industry decline is heavily impacting jobs, with 21,700 lost in onshore wind and 4,200 lost in offshore wind in 2017, leaving 112,000 and 23,000 in the two sectors respectively, according to the government‘s latest official data.

The trend mirrors the 50% fall in value of German wind turbine production to €1.58 billion in 2018 compared with €3.2 billion in 2016, according to the federal government.

What to look out for

Under the circumstances, it would be surprising if Husum Wind managed to match the exhibitor and visitor numbers of previous trade fairs. 

In 2017, it clocked up 682 exhibitors and 15,000 visitors in 2017, after 651 and 17,000 in 2015, respectively.

Elsewhere at the show, the accompanying congress and forum focuses heavily on keeping wind turbines at the end of their 20-year support period on the electricity market.

There will also be sessions on easing the permitting logjam; coping with legal challenges to projects over species protection, which is currently affecting around 1GW of capacity; and on freeing up 4.8GW of capacity blocked on grounds of radar interference and flight safety.

With German onshore wind in the doldrums, and offshore wind tied down by unambitious targets, Enterprise Europe Network, an international business-to-business cooperation exchange appears at Husum Wind as a glimmer of light for business outside Germany.

The speed-dating format on 11 September is designed to let participants quickly meet and explore potential cooperation and has attracted over 100 participants from 20 countries, said the trade fair.

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