Home truths from German study

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As wind turbine manufacturers strive to keep up with demand on the booming world market, focus on providing large machines to serve the latent German offshore market looks to be weakening. The target of 2-3 GW of offshore wind power by 2010, set by the former Social Democrat/Green government, will not be met, reports the Deutsches Windenergie-Institut (DEWI). Offshore development will only start in Germany in 2008 and will reach around 1300 MW by 2010, says DEWI in a report for the organisers of the WindEnergy trade fair in Hamburg next month. On land, installed capacity in Germany will reach 23,700 MW in the same year.

"The offshore delay is due to technical and administrative problems, but also to the fact that wind turbine builders are already working at full capacity," says the study, based on a survey of 60 wind companies and their assessments of the market to 2014.

The turbine manufacturers surveyed account for 85% of global production capacity, but just 34% of them see offshore wind as an important part of their business today, compared with 44% in 2004. Half of the 34% are based outside Germany.

Those surveyed also had mixed feel-ings about whether the planned German offshore wind turbine test site at Borkum West, set to feature 12, 5 MW machines, will speed up offshore developments. Although half the companies polled say the test site is "very important" for gaining experience, 29% class it as "not so important" because it is too late, while 8% say it will have no influence on technology development. A further 13% said it could delay development because developers -might wait until experience from the test site is available. The project rights for the 60 MW Borkum West site were acquired by the federal environment ministry in September from wind developer Prokon Nord Energiesysteme. The aim of the site is "to promote environment and climate protection through improved research and development of wind energy in the North and Baltic Seas."

Looking at the broader wind market, the study predicts that installed world capacity will nearly treble from 71.7 GW at the end of the year to 210 GW by 2014. Just over half will be installed in Europe, with 15% in Germany alone. In 2005, 30% or 18.4 GW of the 59 GW of world installed capacity was in Germany.

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