German carbon targets at risk from wind power slowdown: think tank

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A slowdown in the installation of wind turbines and solar panels in Germany this year could put the country’s carbon reduction targets at risk, environmental think tank Agora said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Power-generating windmill turbines are pictured during sunset from the Drachenberg hill in Berlin, Germany, August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Last year, new onshore wind power capacity in Germany reached 700 megawatts (MW), the lowest level in two decades, while in 2020 only another 1 GW might be built, Agora estimated.

This would lag the 4.2 GW of capacity added per annum between 2013 and 2017. It also lags the 2.5 GW of new capacity that the government expects to be added annually up to 2030 when renewable power production is due to make up 65% of the country’s electricity mix.

“Overall, the renewables expansion is not sufficiently rapid to meet Germany’s generation targets for 2030,” Berlin-based Agora said in an annual analysis.

The slower installation partly reflects delays to the planning and permissioning of onshore turbines applications because of objections to their construction.

Disagreements between Germany’s federal states over financing and general inertia by authorities have also slowed down related grid expansion to transport wind power north to south.

As a result, wind power operators shied away from last year’s auctions for new building licenses. The auctions were for a total of 3.2 GW while bids were only made for 1.5 GW.

In contrast, in offshore wind, which does not share these problems, operators added around 1 GW more capacity by completing projects and stepping up work at those still under construction.

Solar power capacity in 2019 increased by around 30% year-on-year to 4 gigawatts and the increase could reach a similar number this year.

But this would not be enough to meet the 4.5 GW needed each year up to 2030 to compensate for shortfalls in wind power, Agora said.

Agora said the government should seek an additional 900 MW of solar capacity and 3.6 GW of offshore wind capacity to offset the shortfall in power generation volumes in the future as a result of the slow pace of expansion seen in 2019.

It also said reducing CO2 emissions was not only the responsibility of the power industry, noting that the construction industry was even slower to take action to help to reduce harmful emissions, while transport emissions had even risen due to a trend toward bigger cars.

Legislation is planned in the spring to introduce CO2 pricing for the transport and buildings industries at 25 euros ($27.95) a tonne from 2021.

($1 = 0.8946 euros)

Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Jane Merriman