Germany seeks fix for ageing fleet

Government and industry have begun talks about what to do with 16GW of onshore wind capacity due to exit Germany's old support scheme by 2025

German energy minister Peter Altmaier has launched talks on what to do with turbines exiting the country's support scheme from next year

Germany aims to support old projects through repowering, power purchase agreements (PPAs) or direct marketing of wind power output, according to energy minister Peter Altmaier.

Altmaier today (14 October) launched roundtable discussions on what to do with turbines exiting the country's support system.

He said there was a “clear consensus” that allowing old turbines to continue operating made sense, and that he was hopeful a solution could be reached by the end of the year.

The German cabinet recently passed draft energy reforms, but did not include any provisions for a repowering strategy, so Altmaier is instead convening a roundtable meeting of stakeholders to discuss possible funding solutions for turbines.

Hermann Albers, chairman of German wind energy association BWE, suggested 24-36 months of continued support for turbines as developers looking for end-of-life solutions have struggled with upheavals caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Albers also said a quick link to sector coupling and flexibility options would also improve the economics of keeping old turbines in operation.

About 4GW of onshore wind capacity is due to be ineligible for funding under Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) from 1 January 2021, while around 16GW of capacity is due to exit the support scheme beyond 2025.

The turbines were eligible for fixed payments for 20 years under the scheme prior to competitive auctions in Germany.

The BWE described repowering – from reblading to full replacement – as crucial, but called for simple and quick approval processes that build on existing ones.

It called for standardisation in species protection in permitting processes, expert reports to be simplified, and permitting processes overall to be accelerated.

Energy minister Altmaier said: “We want to continue to exploit and also expand these installations' potential. There has been a clear consensus that allowing a continued operation of old installations makes sense.”

He added that where repowering is not possible, PPAs or direct marketing of wind power should be the option of choice, and that a comprehensive solution should be decided before the end of the year.

Altmaier also said that the regulatory framework regarding turbine heights and minimum distance from residential areas should be revisited to enable the modernisation of existing installations, which could then receive today's lower tariffs, according to the Clean Energy Wire news service. 

The BWE’s chairman Albers said: “The sooner a national repowering strategy takes effect, the better it is for the manufacturing industry and the declining bulk consumers."