Enercon – the world’s third-biggest seller of wind turbines last year – is freezing all investments in Germany in reaction to plans by the government in Berlin to impose harsh cuts to the support of onshore wind in the country.
Hundreds of Enercon employees on Wednesday also staged protest rallies at their workplaces against the government’s reform of the Renewable
Energies Act (EEG).
“All German investments are on ice until there is
clarity about what will happen to the EEG,” Enercon spokesman Felix
Rehwald told Recharge.
“Then we will evaluate which investments can still be
Germany’s number-one wind turbine manufacturer had
earmarked to spend at least €110m ($152m) this year. Among the planned
investments was the possible construction of a new facility to manufacture wind
turbine components in central or southern Germany to cater for the growing
moderate wind market there, Rehwald said.
German energy minister Sigmar Gabriel in a draft
amendment to the EEG has proposed a cap of 2.5GW for new wind installations a
year from 2015 on. The government also said it wants to cut onshore wind
feed-in tariffs (FITs), as well as giving preference in support to strong wind
The proposal also foresees the introduction of tenders for
renewable energy projects as well as the phasing in of a new regulation to force
most producers of green power to sell it directly on wholesale electricity
Both rules would hit individual and cooperative small-scale
producers, which often don’t have the know-how, or the manpower, to act as
sellers on electricity markets. Currently, they can feed their energy directly
into power grids and get a FIT for that.
Those grass-roots producers currently are responsible for
most of Germany’s renewable energy output, and making their life more difficult
could destroy business opportunities for companies such as Enercon.
“Many investors into wind energy projects are
unsettled by the reform plans and are putting their project plans
on ice,” Enercon said in a statement.
“The federal government thus with its unbalanced EEG
reform is endangering many existing and additional jobs in the future sector of
onshore wind energy.”
Enercon says it has spent an annual average
three-digit million euro amount in the past couple of years on new
manufacturing, products and staff, creating 3,500 jobs.
Some 1,000 employees in blade production and 200 of the
staff at Enercon’s headquarters in Aurich, northwest Germany, on Wednesday
downed tools to protest the government’s renewables reform plans.
Renewable energy groups plan protest rallies in several
German state capitals on Saturday against the proposals.
Chancellor Angela Merkel on 1 April is slated to meet with
state premiers to discuss the reform plans, before the cabinet takes a decision
on them early that month.