Market holding up

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The German wind market is holding steady, with the volume of installations so far this year well on course to match those of 1996. According to statistics collected by IWET in Hamburg, nearly 150 MW was installed between January and April, compared with only about 90 MW in the same (far colder) period last year. There is little sign, though, that the wind boom of 1995 will be repeated, say wind turbine manufacturers. "The market this year certainly won't exceed that in 1996, which showed a decline of 20% on 1995," says Markus Tacke of Tacke Windtechnik. Dieter Fries, Hamburg-based German agent for Micon, thinks the market in 1997 will be about the same as last year. However, he warns that if the premium payments for wind made under the Electricity Feed law are cut, "There may be a mini-boom this year, but it will be followed by a big slump." Aloys Wobben of Enercon comments: Nineteen-ninety-five was a great year. In 1996, the German market shrank rapidly, and in 1997 it will decline even further." His more pessimistic view is coloured by the depressing debate over the future of the Electricity Feed Law which, he says, is making banks wary of lending money to wind projects. Südwind Energiesysteme is optimistic, but this follows 12 months of consolidation after financial problems. Nordex Balcke-Dürr, too, is optimistic. In 1996, it increased sales and expects to sell about the same number of machines in Germany this year. Next year, too, is expected to be a good one, when the benefits of efforts to secure suitable wind sites in Germany are reaped.

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