OEMs face the abyss in Germany

The slowdown decimating Germany's onshore sector has come as little surprise. Following the 2017 tenders ­-- which were dominated by citizen-owned projects that have longer development times because they did not need permits to enter ­-- it was clear to most in the industry that there would be a dip in installations.

The tender framework was duly criticised and amended, but the die had already been cast.

What the industry, perhaps, did not anticipate was just how wide-ranging the impacts of this lull were going to have on the manufacturing side.

Smaller companies are always the first to go when money is tight, so when a major OEM has to pump the brakes the scale of the damage becomes all too clear.

The writing was on the wall when Enercon started closing supplier factories in Germany and Austria as early as March 2018.

The company does not often make public statements, so when it does, the industry takes notice. Enercon’s managing director, Hans-Dieter Kettwig, has regularly sounded warnings over Germany’s future as a powerhouse of the industry.

"We are no longer pitching for 4GW a year. Stability is our aim," he said at the international Hanover industry trade fair in late April 2018.

"We have to decide what is to be done [and] where — to keep core competence in Germany and distribute other activities … Things can’t remain as they are."

And they haven’t. Enercon’s "transformation programme" is forcing it to massively reduce activities in Germany and move production to cheaper markets, like Turkey and Asia.

The latest OEM casualty follows Senvion’s administration procedures and Nordex seeking further investment from majority shareholder Acciona in order to increase its liquidity. This German trio of manufacturers is now facing a fight for survival.

Meanwhile, Vestas and Siemens Gamesa have also had to reduce their German workforces.

It is not uncommon for markets to see dips, but when it is a major market such as Germany, and when it looks like more than just a blip, the consequences are much more severe.

A new dawn

But as we end 2019 and look towards the next decade, let's not forget how far the insustry has come.

This month, we take a look at some of the most groundbreaking projects of the past ten years and show what the sector is capable of when it thinks creatively.

Perhaps these developments are a sign of things to come as we enter the new age.