Repowering accounted for a quarter of Germany’s 3GW of gross new onshore wind power capacity last year, bringing the accumulated onshore total in Europe’s largest market for renewables to 33.73GW, consolidated data from the German wind federation BWE shows.
The BWE and engineering
group VDMA Power Systems are now urging Germany’s government to take into account
the growing importance of repowering in its plans to put a 2.5GW annual cap on
new onshore wind installations, as part of a reform to legislation on
Repowering amounted to
766MW, or 25.6% of all new onshore installations in 2013. At the same time a
capacity of 258MW was retired last year, reducing the net addition of onshore wind
in 2013 to 2.74GW.
Repowering numbers are
higher than those of shuttered wind installations, as old turbines with a lower
capacity are being replaced with machines with a far higher rating.
The BWE expects new installations
in 2014 to range between 2.5GW and 3GW, but stresses the build-up depends to a
great degree on Berlin’s reform plans.
It is so far unclear
whether the envisaged 2.5GW cap will be valid for net or for gross annual
additions of onshore wind. Given the growing importance of repowering the
question is crucial for companies to assess the size of the German market.
“We’re hearing that most
in coalition negotiations were assuming that they’re talking about the net
expansion,” says BWE president Sylvia Pilarsky-Grosch.
“They are apparently
still discussing this in the (energy) ministry. But it couldn’t be any other
way,” she said, adding that the BWE rejects any kind of cap on the expansion of
Robert Habeck, the Green
Party energy minister of Schleswig-Holstein state, yesterday reportedly said
that German energy minister Sigmar Gabriel during energy talks with German
states was willing to take repowering out of the annual cap.
Officials from Germany’s
and Schleswig-Holstein’s energy ministries couldn’t immediately confirm the
information to Recharge.
Pilarsky-Grosch also warned that there was a great insecurity in the sector, as
a planned 10% to 20% cut to onshore wind feed-in tariffs from 2014 on didn’t
leave developers enough time to adjust to the new support conditions due to
lengthy planning periods for wind parks.
Many companies in the
past days have signalled they may be unable to follow through with construction
plans if the government were to insist on its tight schedule for a cut in
support, she added.
In particular for more
moderate-wind inland locations, the government’s plans for a cut in support
could be life-threatening, the BWE stresses.
New wind additions last
year shifted increasingly to non-coastal areas in central and southern Germany
that accounted for almost 60% of new installations, with wind laggards in the
South now already adding 24.4% of new generation capacity.
The southern state of
Rhineland-Palatine with 413MW of new installations accounted for 13.8% of
additions, coming in second only after coastal Schleswig-Holstein with 14.3% of
additions. Southern German Bavaria with 252MW represented 8.4% of Germany’s new
onshore wind installations last year.
As an increasing number
of turbines was installed in moderate-wind inland locations, while the average
height of towers also increased, to 117 metres last year.