FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany saw a sharp fall in the number of new onshore wind turbines installed last year, industry groups said on Tuesday, and warned there was little prospect of a recovery without government help.
Wind power is one of the most important drivers of Germany’s transition to renewable energy, accounting for nearly 30 percent of total power generation sent to public grids in 2018, according to Fraunhofer institute research.
However, the rapid expansion in onshore wind energy achieved from 2013 to 2017 came to a halt last year due to red tape, opposition from local communities, and uncertainty among operators after the government abandoned 20-year fixed payments for new projects in favor of an auction system.
Germany installed 2,402 megawatts (MW) worth of onshore wind turbines in 2018, down 55 percent from 2017, engineering group VDMA and wind energy association BWE said in a joint statement.
The groups had expected 3,300 MW of additional capacity.
“The stop and go must end,” said Matthias Zelinger, managing director at VDMA Power Systems, of government policy towards wind power.
“A sustained and faster expansion of renewables would be logical, given that costs have been reduced and a plan to go without brown and hard coal-to-power generation has just been announced.”
Zelinger said Germany risked falling behind EU rivals and overseas competitors in the battle to lead the global wind industry. VDMA represents companies such as Siemens Gamesa, Nordex and Senvion.
Wind has become all the more important as Germany wants to produce 65 percent of power from renewable sources by 2030, Zelinger said.
A government-appointed commission at the weekend recommended a halving of coal plant capacity by that date as well as faster renewables growth, among a raft of related measures to meet that target and exit coal fully by 2038.
A recovery in the wind industry could perhaps build from 2021, after parliament two months ago approved special 8,000 MW tenders for wind and solar energy plus an unspecified amount of offshore wind between 2019 and 2021, on top of regular tenders.
This legislation was brought in to compensate for the ruling coalition’s move to shelve strict emissions targets for 2020 and instead push for more aggressive ones by 2030.
Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Mark Potter