German Wind Energy Market Records Stable Growth in 2012

German Wind Energy Market Records Stable Growth in 2012

The German wind energy market recorded further stable growth in 2012. According to current data collected by Deutsche WindGuard on behalf of the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) and VDMA Power Systems (VDMA PS), 2012 saw the installation of 1,008 new wind turbines (2011: 895) with a total capacity of 2,439 megawatts (2011: 2,008).

Connection of new capacity to the grid thus exceeded the previous year’s figure by around 20 percent.

Thorsten Herdan, Managing Director of VDMA PS, comments: “Germany is a pillar of strength in a turbulent global market where wind energy is concerned. Both the expected slump of the US market in 2013 and the progressive isolation of the declining Chinese market are forcing manufacturers to focus on the European core markets. The systemic modification of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act and the electricity market design thus become all the more important. If these goals can be achieved, the framework conditions on the German domestic market will act as a model for Germany’s export markets.”

The expansion of wind energy is taking place all over Germany, north and south as well as east and west. “The slight acceleration we are observing now is proof that the population endorses wind energy and is willing to take charge of Germany’s energy transition. For some time now, new energy cooperatives and citizens’ wind farms have been sprouting up,” reported BWE’s Vice President Sylvia Pilarsky-Grosch at the presentation of the annual figures in Berlin.

Although Lower Saxony (new installation in 2012: 361 megawatts, 154 wind turbines) and Schleswig-Holstein (333 megawatts, 135 wind turbines) still come in top in Federal State comparison, Federal States in the south, such as Rhineland-Palatinate (288 megawatts, 100 wind turbines) and Bavaria (201 megawatts, 81 wind turbines) are also chalking up excellent figures in the field of wind energy expansion. With as little as 19 megawatts and nine wind turbines, Baden-Württemberg remains at the bottom of the league among Germany’s area states.

In the field of offshore wind energy, 16 new wind turbines with a capacity of 80 megawatts were connected to the grid in 2012,bringing up the number of wind turbines in the German part of the North and Baltic Seas to 68 (combined capacity: 280 megawatts). “Last year, as many as 109 foundation structures were installed in the sea while six offshore wind farms with over 350 turbines and a total capacity of 1,700 megawatts are currently under construction. 2013 will show whether the complications surrounding grid connection have been resolved through the recent clarification of liability issues and whether financing is now secured,” emphasises Mr Herdan.

The collection of data by Deutsche WindGuard, which took the form of a manufacturer survey, also included questions regarding the configuration of the newly-connected turbines. In respect of turbine heights, the researchers found a wide gap between the different Federal States. Turbines in Schleswig-Holstein, for example, have an average height of 82 metres – the lowest hub height by far. In comparison, average hub height in Bavaria is 134 m and in Baden-Württemberg 130 m. “This goes to show the huge potential for improvement we face in this area. Higher turbines and larger rotor diameters guarantee higher yields nationwide. With optimum turbine configuration, we can generate more full load hours all over Germany and make a crucial contribution to grid stability,” said Ms Pilarsky-Grosch.

Given the estimated 13,200 megawatts capacity generated by newly installed wind turbines in the USA in 2012 (2011: 6,800 megawatts) and an expected capacity of just above 5,000 megawatts in 2013, as well as 14,000 megawatts in China in 2012 (2011: 17,600 megawatts) with anticipated stagnating installation in 2013, both markets are extremely unstable. This has dramatic consequences for the respective local wind industries. According to VDMA PS estimates, the global market may slump by up to ten percent this year. “If wind energy is not ground up by the election campaign mills, Germany’s strong domestic market will ensure that manufacturing capacities will be ready for the expected revival of the global wind energy market from 2014 onwards,” stated Mr Herdan.


Press release, February 01, 2013; Image: bsh