German energy minister Peter Altmaier promised to present a ‘to-do list’ in the coming three weeks with measures to halt the collapse of new wind power installations in Europe’s largest economy, after a ‘crisis summit’ in Berlin with the wind sector failed to produce immediate results.
Altmaier had invited several dozens of representatives from the wind industry, environmentalist groups, state ministers and even anti-wind protest groups to try to counter the current malaise in German wind power. Figures show an 82% plunge in onshore wind additions during the first half of 2019.
But with the great number of groups represented, it was impossible to actually come up with concrete proposals at the meeting, which ended up being more like a public hearing, participants told Recharge.
“Altmaier listened closely. I thought it was a constructive dialogue,” Markus Tacke, chairman of the VDMA Power Systems manufacturers’ group and chief executive of Siemens Gamesa, told journalists after the meeting.
“But now it is necessary that concrete measures that lead to permits [for new wind projects] are derived from the points [raised]. He promised that a ‘to-do list’ will be drafted in two to three weeks. We as VDMA will contribute constructively in setting it up.”
Altmaier after the meeting stressed the need to reach a great national consensus - similar to Germany’s nuclear and coal exit – with local residents affected by wind farms, wind industry employees and German states on how to achieve a wind expansion that will lead to the country fulfilling its target of a 65% share of renewables in the power mix by 2030.
“We have agreed that on the basis of the statements handed in, today’s discussion, and also further talks to be made with all the involved, we will establish the points that we will tackle concretely and that we must change,” Altmaier said after this week’s crisis meeting.
The minister added that for many companies it is high time to come up with concrete measures.
“The Germany wind energy sector isn’t just important at home, but also has a very strong position on world markets. We would like that this will be maintained and has a perspective also in the future,” he said.
Not all reactions to the wind crisis 'summit' were as cautious as Tacke's.
Thomas Banning, chairman of independent power provider Naturstrom, called the meeting with Altmaier 'disappointing' as it ended without concrete decisions.
"Those, who had hoped to take home new proposals by the economics [and energy] ministry and other involved ministries - or even clear work orders - from the wind summit, have been disappointed," Banning said.
"Own approaches by the economics ministry could not be discerned, not even the willingness of its boss, to work with vigour given the catastrophic development."
Meanwhile, more jobs are in danger in Germany’s wind power sector as installation figures continue to tumble.
Insolvent turbine manufacturer Senvion, for one, may lay off hundreds of workers in Germany still this year after it wasn’t able to find a buyer for its entire business.
Those losses would come on top of some 35,000 jobs already shed in Germany’s wind sector in recent years, according to Hermann Albers, president of wind power federation BWE.
Albers also welcomed Altmaier’s pledge to come up with a “first assessment” in two to three weeks, and said the wind power measures will also play an important role at a 20 September meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s so-called ‘climate cabinet’ that is to come up with measures to reach Germany’s climate
UPDATED with comment by developer Naturstrom