For the first time in five years, annual wind power development may drop below 2000 MW in Germany, warns wind energy consultant Klaus Övermöhle in Hamburg. Övermöhle had earlier projected 2100 MW for 2004, a drop of 550 MW compared with last year and more than 1000 MW less than in 2002, a record year. But a change in permitting law, backed by a court ruling, will hit at least 200-300 MW of planned development, he says. The change in the rules requires some plant to be permitted under an emissions protection regulation, a procedure that takes about seven months. Previously, a straightforward building law permit had sufficed (Windpower Monthly, October 2004 ). The impact of the court ruling, on top of a declining market that has passed its peak, could reduce installation of new plant by up to 30%. Confirming the trend, the first nine months of 2004 saw 1090 MW of wind capacity installed, down 23% on the 1414 MW that went in the ground in the same period of 2003, reports Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE), the German wind energy association. The total German wind power fleet at the end of September amounted to 16,017 turbines with a combined capacity of 15,688 MW, says BWE.