Spring was in the air and the spirit of the wind industry buoyant as the Hannover Industry Trade Fair opened its doors for six days on March 20. A contingent of wind companies found themselves rubbing shoulders with the major German energy companies like Bayernwerk, RWE Energy, PreussenElektra and RAG. The trade fair traditionally attracts over 300,000 visitors from all over the world. The slogan of the fair's energy section, "With new power in the new millennium," could have been written with wind energy in mind. Various sections of the industry were represented -- turbine manufacturers, component suppliers, consultants and plant developers -- though none in any great number.
Of the world's four largest wind companies, Vestas and NEG Micon chose not to display turbines, but had large stands. German Enercon attracted streams of visitors to its E40 nacelle, inviting its guests to see turbine number 300 of its 1.8 MW series at the nearby Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten, an organic farming centre at Kronsberg with its own renewable energy power supply. The turbine was commissioned just two days before the trade fair started. The last of the big four, Enron Wind, of California, was represented by its German subsidiary, Tacke Windenergie, which displayed a prototype TW 1.5 MW machine. This was to be shipped straight to California for the annual American wind energy conference at Palm Springs immediately after the German event closed.
Power giant Borsig Energy presented the nacelle of its new Südwind 1.5 MW machine, for which the construction licence was acquired at the beginning of this year from Pro and Pro, which had offered it up for sale (Windpower Monthly, December 1999.) Of the smaller wind turbine companies, Theo Fuhrländer was happy to receive visitors who were specifically looking for the Fuhrländer 1 MW machine on display in its home country. Lagerwey the Windmaster from the Netherlands had chosen to attend Hannover with the company's LW50/750kW machine. And Dewind Technik was present too.
"Monday was quiet, but after that things picked up with a steady stream of discussions about potential projects," reports Volker Hansen of NEG Micon Deutschland. Ursula Bakkegaard of Vestas Wind Systems says visitors came from far and wide, including Japan, South America, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Other wind industry members present included ABB, which sells generators to NEG Micon, Bonus and Vestas; blade maker LM Glasfiber; wind plant developers AN Windenergie and Energiekontor; consultants Garrad Hassan from England and the Deutsches Windenergie Institut; three members of the Nevag holding group: service firm Enersys, turbine maker Frisia, and wind project financier Ventus; and Wistra, the German agent of Lagerwey the Windmaster of the Netherlands.
Just days before the fair opened, wind proponents were waiting for the new renewable energy law, passed by the lower house of parliament on February 25 (Windpower Monthly, March 2000), to emerge from its unexpected diversion to the Bundesrat, the upper house. A red light would have meant more hearings and possibly an unravelling of the package. Jubilation followed on March 18 when the Bundesrat confirmed the law had gone through.
"I have already registered a very good atmosphere here for renewables. Now get on with selling," was the message from Michaele Hustedt, energy spokeswoman for the Greens Party, which shares power in the federal government. Hustedt put in an appearance at the two-day wind energy conference arranged in conjunction with the fair by the Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE), the federal wind association. Hustedt said she did not believe the premium wind tariff contained in the new law would prevent further growth of a market for green power sales, where renewables generators sell their power directly to green minded customers instead of selling to utilities at the tariff rate. She had three aims for helping eco-power traders: customers must be encouraged to switch to green power; certificates for green power accreditation must be developed; and renewables power should be freed from electricity tax. Currently this is DEM 0.025/kWh, but is to rise by DEM 0.005/kWh each year until it reaches DEM 0.04/kWh at the start of 2003.
Praising the new law and its continuation of the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT), the BWE's Andreas Eichler said companies at the fair should not only be exporting their products but also the REFIT concept "because this represents a secure market." He pleaded for more state guarantees to facilitate large export projects.