Oversubscribed tender brings glimmer of hope to beleaguered German onshore sector

A German onshore wind tender before Christmas was oversubscribed for the first time in more than a year, but it remains to be seen whether pressure has been alleviated on the sector, according to industry organisations and regulators.

In Germany's last onshore wind auction of the decade, 76 bids were submitted for a total capacity of 685.84MW (pic credit: Tony Webster)

The country’s federal energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) awarded contracts for 56 projects with a combined capacity of 509MW. It had received 76 total bids for 685MW, having initially advertised 500MW of available capacity.

Successful bid prices ranged between €57.40/MWh and €61.80/MWh, with a weighted average of €61.10/MWh — down from the €61.90-62.00/MWh range and weighted average of €62/MWh in the country’s most recently undersubscribed auction in October.

The latest tender was the first time a German onshore wind auction was oversubscribed since August 2018, according to Tender Watch, Windpower Monthly's auction database.

A “technology-neutral” tender pitting onshore wind against solar PV in November 2018 had also been oversubscribed, but only solar PV developers secured contracts.

Despite the apparent success of the latest auction, the BNetzA said it “remains to be seen” whether there has been a turnaround for onshore wind.

Hermann Albers, president of German wind energy association BWE, said the tender “should give us hope for a stabilisation of the German wind market in 2020”, However, “the industry is still under massive pressure and is waiting in vain for credible political signals, in particular to resolve the backlog of permits,” he added.

The BNA has previously acknowledged that difficulties in permitting at state-level has deterred developers from bidding in tenders.

A package of climate measures approved in October includes plans to accelerate permitting for onshore wind farms by fast-tracking legal action over projects’ noise levels and restricting challenges to permit awards.

Brandenburg had the most capacity awarded in the last tender of 2019 (17 projects for 174.26MW), followed by Lower Saxony (three projects for 73.25MW), North-Rhine Westphalia (11 projects for 72.63MW) and Schleswig-Holstein (six projects for 48.6MW).

Eight so-called “citizens’ projects” secured power deals.