Record year and rising bills -- Wind growth in Germany

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The year-on-year growth rate of the German wind market is falling, latest figures from the country's wind association Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE) confirm. Although a record-breaking 3247 MW was installed in 2002 compared with 2659 MW the previous year, the percentage additional capacity is still significantly down on 2001's 60% increase on the year 2000. In 2001 the volume of new installed capacity was 989 MW more than in 2000, while last year it was just 588 MW more than in 2001, a percentage additional capacity of just 22%.

Germany's combined wind capacity has now reached 12,000 MW provided by 13,759 turbines, enough to meet around 5% of national electricity demand compared to 3% in 2001, notes Jens-Peter Molly of German wind institute DEWI. The average turbine size installed in 2002 was 1.4 MW.

Wind is supported in Germany under the Erneuerbare-Energien Gesetz law (EEG), which guarantees premium payments for output. According to the German electricity federation, Verband der Elektrizitätswirtschaft (VDEW), the cost of the EEG on consumer electricity bills will increase by 25.5% this year. Last year a typical three-person household paid EUR 1.02 a month for renewables, rising to EUR 1.28 a month this year.

VDEW describes the increasing cost of the EEG as a "burden" on consumers, noting it will account for 2.6% of a typical household's total electricity bill in 2003, compared to 2.2% in 2002. For the year, VDEW estimates the EEG will cost EUR 2.10 billion compared to EUR 1.68 billion in 2002.

The cost of the EEG for consumers is, however, still a tiny component of the final electricity bill a consumer receives. Most of the consumer's monthly bill (60%) in 2003 will be for electricity generation, transport and marketing, while around 40% will be for taxes or levies, including the EEG. Turnover tax, electricity tax and a concession levy all cost consumers significantly more than the EEG, respectively accounting for 14%, 12% and 10% of the final bill in 2003. In addition, 1.8% of the final bill is for a cogeneration support levy.

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