Berlin, 26 July 2018 – Following the record expansion year 2017 for onshore wind energy in Germany, new installations are declining in 2018 as expected. The figures collected by Deutsche WindGuard show a gross increase of 1,626 MW or 497 onshore turbines in the first semester of 2018; the net increase amounted to 1,505 MW. This corresponds to a 29 per cent decline in gross expansion compared with the same period last year at 2,281 MW.

The current expansion is mainly due to the transitional phase of the old EEG. The effects of the error in allowing non-approved projects in the tenders has become visible in the order backlogs and the short-term growth outlook. “Without a doubt, an ambitious and dynamic domestic market is the prerequisite for export success in the growing world market. The goals of the coalition agreement and the EU’s new energy policy framework are correct. What the industry needs now, is a stringent implementation in tender quantities and growth figures”, demands Matthias Zelinger, Managing Director of VDMA Power Systems.

The European figures compiled by WindEurope show that Europe is on track for a solid year in new wind farm installations. In the first semester 2018, onshore wind accounted for 3.2 GW across Europe. The expansion is driven by just a handful of markets, in particular Germany, France and Denmark.

Stagnant assignment of permits in Germany slows down energy transition

For 2018 as a whole, the industry continues to expect an increase of 3,300 – 3,500 MW, while on average some 4,600 MW were installed between 2014 and 2017. The market slump was part of the tendering system but is no longer compatible with the 65 percent target for renewable energy in electricity generation by 2030 set in the coalition agreement.

“The energy transition is not failing because of the costs, but it is being slowed down by the lack of permits. We are currently experiencing a dramatic slump here. In some cases, proceedings were not pursued vigorously because it remained unclear for too long whether permits would remain as a basis for participation in the auctions. At the same time, the processes are becoming increasingly lengthy. A good 10,000 MW of wind power is currently more or less stuck in the process. A fundamental commitment to the 65 percent target across all political levels is needed to provide new impetus. This would require, among other things, making it possible to plan the target of two percent of the state’s land area for onshore wind energy and including it in the principles of regional planning in §2 (2) No. 4 of the Spatial Planning Act,” demands Hermann Albers, President of the German Wind Energy Association (BWE).

At the end of May 2018, projects with a volume of 4,261 MW were approved according to the plant register. Of these, around 1,900 MW had received approval by 31 December 2016, but did not opt for the tendering system and can therefore be implemented in the transition until 31 December 2018 with a decreasing EEG remuneration. The Federal Network Agency approved 1,288 MW for the tender in August, which had registered their approval on 11 July 2018. A clear policy signal from federal level is needed for stable growth up to 2030 in order to rapidly replenish the pipeline of eligible projects. 

Correcting errors from EEG 2017 completely

“With the regulation to require the BImSchG approvals by the end of next year as a qualification for bids, an important step towards the correction of the decisive error in the EEG 2017 has been taken. Now some of the special tenders mentioned in the coalition agreement must be used quickly in order to alleviate the imminent growth gap in 2019. These quantities should be determined carefully to ensure competition. It must also be clarified quickly that there will be no turning back to invitations to tender without permits,” explains Matthias Zelinger. Last but not least, the recently adopted European Renewable Energy Directive also requires transparency for the deployment volumes to meet the 2030 target of 65 percent renewable energies in the electricity system.

Continued operation: New challenges from 2020 onwards

The special tenders agreed in the coalition agreement remain just as necessary as a legally anchored quantity structure for achieving the 2030 goals. It must be possible to react flexibly to developments from 2021 onwards if installed capacity gradually falls out of the EEG remuneration system. For turbines with a total capacity of 16,000 MW, it must be decided by 2025 whether further operation is economically viable. “Currently, only half of the plants have a chance of repowering. Here, state policy is required to keep existing locations usable with a high degree of acceptance. In view of the investments already made in the network infrastructure, this is also in the interest of the network operators,” says Hermann Albers.

 In the interests of climate protection, the dismantling and repowering of the first wind turbines must be taken into account when determining the quantities for tender. On the way to the 65 percent target by 2030, a slump in total installed capacity is unacceptable. “Even unrealized surcharges may not permanently reduce the deployment volume. These quantities must be reconsidered in subsequent tenders,” emphasizes Matthias Zelinger.

Heterogeneous developments in Europe

The solid figures for the development of wind energy in Europe also mask some worrying trends. “France for instance has installed a lot of new onshore wind this year but they haven’t issued a single new permit for onshore wind in the last eight months because of an administrative issue – which has also resulted in their latest auction being under-subscribed. In Germany there’s no clarity yet on when the 4 GW new onshore wind promised in the coalition agreement for 2019-20 is going to be auctioned. And the new Government is slow in confirming the auction volumes beyond that”, explained Pierre Tardieu, Chief Policy Officer at WindEurope.

At European level, it was recently decided to increase the share of renewable energies in the electricity supply to 32 percent. “Like all Member States Germany must draw up national energy and climate protection plans under the terms of the new Renewables Directive and now needs to give five years’ visibility on future auction timetable and volumes. This visibility is key to the supply chain and to keep wind energy jobs and growth in Europe. Investments in manufacturing, skills and R&D only happen when governments give long-term visibility to the supply chain. This clarity helps them to make new investment decisions and bring down costs. Addressing these issues will be key to enable Europe to meet its target of 32% renewable energy by 2030 cost effectively”, commented Pierre Tardieu the significance of the European legislation.

Figures at a glance:

Status of onshore wind energy expansion

Capacity in MW

Number of wind turbines

Net additons in first semester 2018

1.505,36

396

Gross additions in first semester 2018

1.626,05

497

Repowering share

296,50

88

Dismantling in first semester 2018

120,69

101

Cumulative WTG portfolio on 30 June 2018

52.282,3

29.071

 

Please find more information about the European Wind Energy figures at the website of WindEurope

About Bundesverband Windenergie e.V.
BWE, a member of Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energie [German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE)] with more than 20,000 members, represents the entire industry. Members of BWE include the mechanical engineering industry’s suppliers and manufacturers, project developers, specialist jurists, the financial sector, companies from the fields of logistics, construction, service/maintenance and storage technology, electricity traders, network operators, and energy suppliers. As a result, BWE is the primary contact for politics and business, science and the media.

About VDMA Power Systems
VDMA Power Systems is a division of the non-profit German Engineering Federation (VDMA). The association represents the interests of manufacturers of wind turbines and hydroelectric plants, fuel cells, gas/steam turbines and plants and engine systems at home and abroad. VDMA Power Systems serves them all as an information and communication platform for all industry issues, such as energy policy, energy policy, legislation, market analyses, trade fairs, standardisation, and press and public relations.

Press contacts:

VDMA Power Systems

Beatrix Fontius

+49 69 6603 1886

[email protected]

Bundesverband WindEnergie e.V.

Wolfram Axthelm

+49 30 212 341 251

[email protected]

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2.1 million farms cover our country’s rural landscapes, and 99 percent of them are family-owned and operated. And now, a growing number of them host wind turbines. Increasingly, the extra income from wind projects helps keep these farms in the family and the family on the farm, even in uncertain times. 

Fluctuating crop prices affect farmer’s livelihoods 

Weather, supply, demand, and policy can all affect crop prices. A change in just one of these aspects can increase volatility or influence long-term trends.  

Over the past 20 years, agricultural commodity prices have hit both highs and lows. But since 2012, rates have steadily declined due to strong supply and weak demand. Beyond this, more short-term fluctuations due to weather or policy changes add extra layers of uncertainty to a farming family’s income.  

This June alone, the total value of the U.S. corn, soybean and wheat crops dropped 10 percent, or roughly $13 billion. Soybean prices have fallen around 18 percent, heading to their lowest point in nearly a decade. A University of Illinois analysis found that to make a profit on soybeans, farmers must make around $10.05 a bushel for the 2018 harvest. Currently, farmers are getting $8.40. That’s a troubling gap.

Though crop prices have dropped over time, production costs have not, creating tightening profit margins. Volatile commodity prices affect a farmer’s bottom line, putting them at risk for significant debt or even bankruptcy.

Trade disputes can cut into farm profits

After the U.S. announced tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese products this month, China responded with taxes of their own, primarily on agricultural products like pork and soybeans. These are the kinds of goods made by family farmers in America’s heartland.

In 2017, Texas farmers sent $42 billion worth of goods to China. Castro County, in the center of the Texas Panhandle, is a top agricultural producer in the state. Its economy centers on dairies, corn and cotton. Analysis from Moody’s Analytics shows that U.S. tariffs on China could negatively affect nearly 25 percent of Castro County’s GDP.

Wind turbines are a stable income source in an uncertain time

Fortunately, many farmers in Castro County have a stable cash-crop that is policy and drought resistant. Castro County is ranked sixth in the nation for most megawatts of installed wind capacity and hosts 282 turbines.

Landowners who host one or more of these turbines on their property receive yearly lease payments from wind companies, offering a new source of stable revenue. This passive income source can help keep farms afloat in times like these.

In 2017 alone, Texas landowners received more than $60 million in lease payments. Across the country, wind projects paid farmers and ranchers an estimated $267 million.

Turbine income allows landowners to invest in farm equipment improvements

Wind turbines can not only help landowners stay afloat, but also can increase certainty about the future. A 2014 study found that farmers with turbines on their land have invested twice as much in their operations over the past five years as farmers without them. Farmers with turbines are also more likely to believe that their land will stay in their family once they retire.

Dr. Sarah Mills of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy also took a look at this question in a paper entitled, “Farming the wind: The impacts of wind energy on farming.” Some of her key findings include:

John Dudley, a Texas farmer said, “It will not change how we operate, it will not change anything about our lives. But it will be an additional income stream that I suspect will be very handy. It will allow the family to have the ranch for a long time.”

Wind power adds a significant economic boost to agricultural America, becoming even more important during uncertain times like these.

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As the administration continues developing plans to prop up aging, uneconomic coal and nuclear plants, many have wondered what the price tag for consumers would look like. Today, a new report is out from the Brattle Group that gives us a glimpse of what a two-year down payment for bailing out these plants could cost: between $9.7 and $35 billion a year.

Here’s a rundown of what cost figures could look like:

  • $16.7 billion per year, or roughly $34 billion for two years as proposed, if every coal and nuclear plant in the country were given a uniform ($ per unit of capacity) support at the level of the average financial shortfall experienced by such plants;
  • $9.7 billion to $17.2 billion annually, or roughly $20 billion to $34 billion over two years, if only those plants now facing shortfalls were given payments sufficient to cover their operating losses; or
  • $20 billion to $35 billion annually, or $40 billion to $70 billion total, if power plant owners were also granted a return on their invested capital in addition to payments for operating shortfalls.

“This report clearly shows that proposals to prop up coal and nuclear resources will needlessly raise the cost of electricity and hamstring U.S. manufacturers to compete in increasingly competitive domestic and international markets,” said John Hughes, President and CEO of the Electricity Consumers Resources Council. “I fear, however, the impact is underestimated and that the actual impact on consumers will be worse.”

“Bailouts of coal and nuclear plants around the country could raise costs on American consumers and fundamentally hurt the administration’s goal of American energy dominance throughout the world,” said Todd Snitchler, Market Development Group Director at the American Petroleum Institute. “[G]overnment mandates forcing consumers to buy coal and nuclear power does nothing advance the security of our nation’s electric grid.”

“Arresting the retirement of uneconomic generating assets in the current market environment will likely prove quite costly,” Brattle notes.

As a reminder, grid operators, experts and utilities have all said that the nation’s electric grid faces no reliability or resiliency emergencies.

There is “no immediate calamity or threat” according to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Kevin McIntyre.

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Get ready– American Wind Week 2018 (August 5-11) is less than a month away!

From barbeques to wind farm tours, a dozen events and counting spanning more than 10 states are in the works. And they all have at least one thing in common—they’ll be celebrating American wind leadership.

What kinds of events can we expect to see this American Wind Week?

In New Mexico, Pattern Energy and AWEA will host an advocacy training on August 10 at Mesalands Community College. Attendees will learn pro tips on how to meet with their elected officials, share their opinions in their newspapers and much more. Mesalands trains the next generation of American wind techs, one of the country’s two fastest growing jobs along with solar installer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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What else is going on during American Wind Week?

A camp in North Dakota will teach kids how to fly drones, a growing wind O&M tool. Members of Congress and state lawmakers are visiting the men and women in their districts who have rewarding wind careers, there will be opportunities to learn about wind at county fairs, and so much more. Keep track of everything going on by following #AmericanWindWeek on social media.

Last year, wind became America’s largest source of renewable energy capacity. And with world-class wind resources and innovative technology, this all-American energy source will continue growing its lead while creating jobs in farm, factory and port towns across all 50 states.

We still need your help to make American Wind Week stretch from coast to coast– invite an elected official to visit your wind farm or factory, host an open house or promote wind energy at a public event.

Events can be planned anywhere the wind blows in this 50 state industry, but big wind states like Texas, Iowa and Nebraska shouldn’t go without a Wind Week event. If you’re interested in organizing an event in one in these states or others, you can join the movement by emailing AWEA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We have a lot to celebrate this August 5-11, so let’s make sure we tell the whole story!

Here’s a look back at American Wind Week 2017, which serves as a preview of what’s to come in just a few short weeks.

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