Already firmly entrenched as Europe's leading wind market, much is still expected of Germany's industry over the next 11 years as the country strives to achieve its target to increase energy from renewables from 6% in 2005 to 18% by 2020, as required by the EU renewable energy directive. Both the government and industry groups alike are expecting wind to contribute around half of the electricity that will come from renewables, although opinion about how much actual generation this will be is divided.
The renewables lobby says as much as 47% of the country's electricity, or 278 TWh a year, could come from renewables without compromising network security. Onshore wind would supply 19% of total electricity demand and offshore another 6%, says a January study by the German renewable energy association Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energien (BEE) and the renewable energy agency Agentur for Erneuerbare Energien (AEE). To achieve that, cumulative installed capacity onshore would have to almost double to 45 GW. Most of that growth would come from repowering projects, replacing the bulk of Germany's existing 20,000 turbines with larger machines. Meanwhile, around 10 GW of offshore capacity is expected to come online. The study, Electricity supply 2020 - route to a modern energy economy, assumes the current support framework conditions are maintained and developed.
Germany's government is more conservative with its targets. As part of its 2007 Integrated Energy and Climate Package it set a goal for renewable energy to supply "at least 30%" of total electricity in 2020. The level will "be continuously increased thereafter." That target is now enshrined in law, having come into force last October as part of the revised renewable energy act. Dovetailing closely with the 18% by 2020 EU directive renewable energy goal, a Lead Study 2008 (LeitStudie 2008) from the federal environment ministry outlines how it expects the target to be achieved.
In this, it says the renewable energy sector will supply 178.2 TWh a year by 2020, with wind accounting for close to 90 TWh of that. Onshore capacity, it says, will rise to just 28 GW, some 17 GW less than the BEE and AEE say can be realistically achieved. Offshore capacity, the government agrees, will rise to 10 GW by 2020.
The government confirmed its targets again last month in its 30-page document, New Thinking, New Energy: Road Map for Energy Policy to 2020. This also banks on the current renewables support mechanism continuing into the future, even if a new government takes up office following the next general election, due to take place later this year.
Under the current system, all wind power is bought by electricity supply companies at a price fixed by government for a period of 20 years. Additional bonuses are also available, including incentives to encourage repowering of existing projects. Here, the new turbines must be at least twice, but no more than five times, the rated capacity of the old units.
Stephan Kohler of Germany's energy agency, Deutsche Energie-Agentur, says the government target can be achieved. The BEE/AEE forecast, on the other hand, he deems unrealistic. "Firstly, the plant has to be built. Can we get enough turbines to raise wind capacity to 55 GW over the next ten years? Secondly, we need expansion of the transmission network infrastructure," he says. "We think about 32% is an ambitious target, but possible."
Sara Knight, Windpower Monthly