German wind manufacturers demand national plan

Supply chain presents specific proposals to build on crisis meeting with energy minister last week

German wind turbine manufacturers and their suppliers have demanded a national action plan to revive the country’s slumping onshore sector growth.

Represented by VDMA Power Systems, the manufacturers at the Husum Wind industry event presented specific proposals that build on a 10-point-plan to kick-start the sector that was submitted by wind and environmental groups to energy minister Peter Altmaier ahead of a crisis meeting last week.

That plan contained a compromise by nature conservation groups over species protection in order to boost the currently stalled expansion of onshore wind.

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VDMA Power System’s specific proposals aim to ease impediments to the wind build-out through measures such as standardised rules for the marking of aviation obstacles.

“Companies across the supply chain need a confirmation of joint goals … for the immediate removal of administrative hurdles as well as a standardisation of requirements for wind turbines,” said VDMA Power Systems managing director Matthias Zelinger.

“The ‘wind power summit’ with economics minister Altmaier was a constructive start. Now we need a binding action plan for the wind industry to reach the 65% target for the share of renewable energies in power consumption by 2030 and for climate protection, as well as maintaining and expanding the [sector's] value-creation and employment in Germany.”

Altmaier at the crisis meeting on Friday listened to close to 70 wind industry, environmental and even anti-wind groups, leaving each representative to talk only for a few minutes. That made a meaningful discussion or the formulation of concrete proposals impossible, according to participants.

"If you don’t have this relevant market, the industry will move where the business is."

But the minister pledged to draw up as to-do list in the three weeks following the meeting, with measures to halt the collapse of new wind power installations in Europe’s largest economy.

Gunnar Liehr, vice president for Germany, Austria and Switzerland at Siemens Gamesa, speaking at the VDMA event, stressed that Germany needs a large domestic wind market to maintain its current prominent position in the international wind industry.

“If you don’t have this relevant market, the industry will move where the business is. And then production facilities will emerge at those locations, research will be done there, and further development [of products] will be done there,” Liehr predicted.

“1GW or 1.2GW, whichever expansion [in onshore wind] we will see this year, in the global comparison is not relevant.”

The demands of the action plan also include:

  • Legally anchoring the government’s 65% renewables in Germany's power mix target, including a goal to build 5GW onshore wind (gross) per year as of 2020, 1.5GW of offshore wind starting in 2022, and hold a 2GW special offshore tender.
  • Boost grid expansion and make better use of the existing network.
  • Abolish the 'grid expansion area' that limits onshore additions in northern Germany.
  • Introduce ‘acceptance’ technologies’, ease rules on night warning lights on wind turbine and allow rotor blades longer than 65 metres.
  • Foster technical advances via innovation tenders.
  • Allow the repowering of operating machines without additional costs under the Renewable Energies Act (EEG).
  • Set up predictable and transparent rules for permits for the transport of wind turbines.

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