Substantial growth

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Use of wind energy in Germany continued to grow in 1993, with an 84% increase in total installed capacity in just one year. Six hundred new turbines were installed with a combined rated capacity of just under 154 MW. This increased the total number of wind turbines of 1 kW or more to 1793, bringing German installed capacity to just over 334 MW, according to wind institute DEWI at Wilhelmshaven. DEWI estimates that electricity production from wind plant in 1993 reached around 673 GWh or about 0.14% of total German consumption. The calculations assume that small turbines (up to 80 kW) operated with a load factor of 15% load, medium turbines (81-200 kW) at around 20% and those above 200 kW with a load factor of 25%.

The distribution of wind use in Germany correlates closely with regional wind conditions. The province of Schleswig-Holstein in the north leads the field, followed by Lower Saxony and, for the moment, the inland state of North Rhine Westfalia (NRW). However, during 1994 the east German coastal province of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is likely to overcome its handicap as a late starter after German unification and overtake NRW, at least in terms of installed capacity if not in number of turbines.

The rate of development achieved last year is unlikely to be increased in 1994, although it is quite possible that 150 MW-160 MW of new capacity will go in the ground. From the number of applications for installation of wind power stations so far lodged with the authorities, the outlook is good, says DEWI's Armin Keuper. Several large projects are planned but in many cases licensing procedures have yet to be completed. Also licensing is getting harder and conditions more stringent all the time. Many municipalities are drawing up land use maps, earmarking areas for wind development. But the results of these efforts may not become apparent until 1995, he adds.

Federal support

Germany's federal support programme for wind -- the 250 MW programme administered by the Jülich research institute -- is coming to an end, but continues to play a dominant role on the market. The institute reports that 774 applications have so far resulted in completed wind projects comprising 1021 turbines with a combined rated capacity of 113.2 MW -- just over one third of the installed wind capacity operating in Germany today. Another 1336 applications have also made it through the system, with support granted to a further 1786 turbines (198.5 MW). But only 1010 of these contracts are, as yet, legally binding -- for 1355 turbines with a combined capacity of 161.2 MW.

The 250 MW programme is operated by the technology ministry as a research and development programme. It adds DEM 0.06 per kilowatt hour produced during the first ten years of a wind plant's life to the DEM 0.16/kWh which the utilities are obliged by law to pay for wind power.

Since the start of the programme in 1989, Jülich reports that a total of 4716 applications have been received, requesting support for 8461 wind turbines with a total capacity of 1350 MW. This is nearly five and half times the 250 MW capacity which the government agreed to support. However, only 2289 applications survived the initial sifting process. Some were not considered suitable for support while other proposals were not followed up by applicants. The institute finally narrowed the field down to a point where it had to process applications for support of 3427 wind turbines with a combined rated capacity of 575.6 MW.

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