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Payments for power generated by new wind turbines in Germany's windy coastal areas will sink slightly, while wind plant operators at inland sites will nominally be better off. This will be the effect of the new German wind law on renewable energies from March 1, assuming it passes onto the statute books as widely expected. After the first parliamentary reading of the bill on December 16, the second and third readings are due sometime in February.

The wind tariff today is DEM 0.1610/kWh, down from the DEM 0.1652/kWh of 1999. If the bill passes into law, there will be a new sliding scale tariff based on whether a turbine generates more power, or less power, than a "reference turbine" model (Windpower Monthly, December 1999).

New turbines installed at good coastal sites will receive DEM 0.178/kW for the first five years of operation, falling to DEM 0.138/kWh after that period. Average payment over 20 years of operation will be DEM 0.148/kWh, according to calculations by the Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE), the federal wind energy association.

A new wind plant at an average inland site, where winds are lower, will receive DEM 0.178/kWh for 17.5 years, after which time the tariff will drop to DEM 0.138/kWh, making the average payment over 20 years DEM 0.173/kWh, says BWE.

The association is basing its calculations on a 500-600 kW turbine with a standard generation of one million kWh a year. The cut-off date for the old tariff is set at January 1, 2000. After that date all turbines are eligible for the new tariff.

For an existing wind turbine installed on January 1, 1992, BWE has calculated that in a high-wind coastal area, the operator will receive DEM 0.178/kWh until June 30, 2001, after which time payment will fall to DEM 0.138/kWh. Average payment over 20 years (1992-2012) works out at DEM 0.15329/kWh, says BWE. Thus if a new turbine is installed after January 1 on a windy site, it gets DEM 0.00529/kWh less over its lifetime under the new system than it would have done under the old REFIT.

At an average inland (low wind) site, the operator of the same turbine will get DEM 0.178/kWh for 13.5 years from January 1, 2000, after which time the rate will drop to DEM 0.138/kWh. The average for 20 years payment works out at DEM 0.17429/kWh, or around DEM 0.01/kWh more than if payment for its power had continued to be paid under the old tariff.

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