Grinding Halt: Germany’s Wind Industry Faces Armageddon As Turbine Running Costs Escalate
Thousands of Germany’s wind turbines have reached the end of their economic lives; and replacing them is no simple matter. First, the costs of doing so are colossal. Secondly, the behemoths that might replace their ancestors are so large as to exceed the height limits placed on turbines by Germany’s planning rules.
Pierre Gosselin can barely conceal his delight with the fact that Germany’s wind industry is literally coming to a grinding halt.
Green Dream Arrives In Germany! But Repowering Obstacles Pose “Imminent Catastrophe” For Wind Power
No Tricks Zone
9 September 2020
All is not so wunderbar when it comes to Germany’s wind power outlook.
The green dream, with all its scenic beauty and nature conservation, has arrived in northern Germany. But now that green dream faces more obstacles.
Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act, passed in 2000, was intended to ensure the generation of “green” electricity. Operators of wind turbines were guaranteed subsidies for a period of twenty years – with the hopes the technology would develop to such an extent that it would operate economically without subsidies.
20 years later, the wind turbines are still not competitive reports trendsderzukunft.de here.
Plagued by high costs
The first problem with the old turbines? The costs. They require comparatively frequent maintenance. “This drives up the costs, which is why operation is not economical in many cases.” reports trendsderzukunft.de. “A study has shown that at an electricity price of 3.375 cents euro per kilowatt-hour, only 23 percent of the old plants can be operated without subsidies.”
Feed-in requirement running out
The second problem: “The Feed-in priority” law which forced power grid operators to purchase wind electricity. “However, it is unclear whether this regulation will continue to apply despite the expiration of subsidies,” says trendsderzukunft.de. “This question will probably have to be cleared up by the courts in the end. However, many operators will probably not wait for this and prefer to shut down the old wind turbines instead.”
Sites will have to be abandoned
Trendderzukunft.de. adds: “By 2025, there is a risk of losing 2,300 to 2,400 megawatts of capacity every year.”
Moreover, legal hurdles prevent repowering, which involves “replacing several old turbines with one new and larger one.” The problem, reports trendsderzukunft.de is that at many existing locations “there is a height limit for wind turbines. The installation of the latest generation of wind turbines is therefore not possible there. However, smaller turbines are no longer available on the market. In many cases, therefore, the sites simply have to be abandoned.”
For that reason, around 1,000 of 1,691 wind turbine sites are affected in Lower Saxony alone and are currently not available for so-called repowering. “Lower Saxony’s Minister of Energy and Environment, Olaf Lies (SPD), speaks of an imminent ‘catastrophe’ for wind power in Germany,” writes trendsderzukunft.de.
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