Record number of new installations

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Germany saw a surge in wind turbine installations during the first half of 1998 greater than in any previous comparable six month period. Installed wind power was boosted to 2364 MW -- enough capacity to generate about 1% of the country's annual electricity consumption, or 4.7 TWh of the 470 TWh needed.

During the first six months, 309 MW of new capacity went on line, provided by 439 turbines, reports the Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE), the federal wind energy association. This compares with 212 MW and 296 turbines installed during the same period last year. By the end of June, a total of 5536 turbines were turning in Germany.

The BWE's report of continued growth is backed by statistics compiled by Deutsches Windenergie Institut (DEWI). According to DEWI, 306.5 MW of wind power has been installed so far this year, topping last year's first six months' by 90 MW -- a 50% increase. There were 434 turbines installed during the first six months of 1998, says DEWI, 20% more than during the same period in 1997. The average capacity of new turbines is 706 kW and over 40% use rotors with a diameter of more than 48 metres. DEWI reports that 5631 turbines (2390 MW) are now running in Germany; the average size of each is 424 kW.

Commenting on the outlook for the whole of 1998, BWE says development in the first six months of a year usually accounts for only about 40% of that for the whole year. "So in 1998 some 770 MW may be installed, 40 MW more than BWE's predictions." This would amount to a new record, outstripping by far the 535 MW installed in 1997, the previous best year for German wind.

The drive in installations during the first half of this year was the result of two factors, says BWE's Ralf Bischof. Political support for the Electricity Feed Law, which determines the size of Germany's Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT), was reavowed towards the end of last year, pumping new heart into the market. Second, local government authorities, the communes, have made good progress with wind turbine zoning plans.

Lower Saxony overtakes

Of the 16 Länder, Lower Saxony has seen over twice as much wind capacity installed this year as the next most industrious land, neighbouring Schleswig Holstein. DEWI expects Lower Saxony to overtake Schleswig Holstein's total installed wind capacity well before the end of the year. Meantime, east German Mecklenburg roused itself from a sluggish past for an energetic installation drive. Its installations this year match those of the traditionally more dynamic North Rhine Westfalia (table).

The wind business in Germany continues to be dominated by home company Enercon, while Vestas and AN Windenergie (Bonus) have lost out to Nordex Balcke-Dürr and NEG Micon compared with last year's rankings. Vestas told DEWI it has suffered delays in deliveries during the first months of the year "because demand from the rest of the world was so great." Its installations are expected to pick up during the second half of 1998.

DEWI notes that Enercon has been busy in nearly all the Länder while Vestas, in contrast, installed nothing in Lower Saxony where the wind boom was strongest, nor in North Rhine Westfalia, the most active inland state. Neither is NEG Micon active in North Rhine Westfalia, nor in Mecklenburg. DEWI further reports that the activities of Nordex Balcke-Dürr and AN Windenergie were more evenly spread. The institute warns, however, that observations over such a short time period do not reflect true market trends.

Investment in wind energy during the first six months reached DEM 675 million, nearly DEM 200 million more than the corresponding figure in 1997, says DEWI.

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