Controversy Involving the Expansion Volumes of Wind Energy Systems in Germany

A summary given by 1155PM consultants GmbH

The wind energy industry is experiencing a real boom at the moment. The 546 on-line offshore wind systems in total in 2015 were not all built in just the past year. However, their connection to the system means that the technical problems were able to be solved.  After may years of delays, the billion-Euro projects could finally unleash their potential. The total output of 792 systems in total is currently 3,294.9 megawatts, according to the German Federal Wind Energy Association (BWE). More than two million households in Germany are supplied with the energy produced. 


The federal government announced achieving 11,000 megawatts as a goal for 2025. In order for this to succeed, new systems with a generation performance of 70 megawatts altogether will have to be built. But the BWE also has even farther-reaching plans. Already as of 2021, the annual expansion volumes are to be 900 megawatts instead of 700 megawatts. According to the industry association's reasoning, only then can the costs be lowered in a way that secures value creation and industrial production in this country. 


In front of this backdrop, the federal government's plans create disquiet in the government's support for other projects. The reform from the Federal Ministry of Economics anticipates limiting the expansion of wind energy on land to 2,500 megawatts per year. This is to be achieved by ensuring that the investors with the lowest need for support are permitted to build wind energy systems, among other things. This would turn the support through fixed feed-in tariffs that has been in place until now on its head. However, to make sure that the locations on the mainland do not come up short, they will be supported more heavily than those locations near the coast (i.e., the ones with the most wind).  


The Christian-Democratic faction ("CDU") in the Bundestag has sharply criticised the plans from the SPD-led Federal Ministry of Economics. According to the CDU politicians, by re-aligning support, inefficient and unprofitable locations will be created. The CDU overlooks the fact that wind energy on land is already among one of the driving forces of the energy revolution. The on-shore locations could make the complicated network expansion easier. Additional expansion of wind systems on the mainland also provides for more hours of wind energy per year.  


While politics promises cost-effective support of wind energy through new regulation, the BWE fears higher costs and risks for investors. Together with representatives of the northern German states, the wind industry spoke out in favour of consistent expansion of wind energy systems on both land and sea at the G8 summit in Wismar. There is also much at stake for the SPD-led Federal Ministry of Economics, because there are many jobs involved. Siemens has just announced the creation of around 1,000 new jobs in Cuxhaven, for example. 


It could also very well be possible that the EEG could yet make a few changes to the reform paper. It is, however, clear that the power supply network needed to connect the grid connection of the wind energy systems has simply been expanded insufficiently and at a slow rate to date. The green electricity boom must not cause network operators to have to invest amounts into the nine-digit figures to ensure network stability. The head of the Federal Chancellery, Peter Altmaier, has therefore made being an intermediary among the numerous interest groups his own task over the coming weeks and months.