The expansion of wind turbines is still not progressing. This stagnation is putting increasing pressure on the industry. In order to be able to achieve the expansion target of using two percent of the land area for wind power by 2032, five times the volume is required.
Associations called on politicians to initiate further reforms as a matter of urgency. Approval procedures would have to be significantly shortened. Measures that have already been decided to ensure that more areas are designated for wind turbines should take effect quickly.
"The political will is there, the expansion targets have been adjusted, but there are still problems with the right framework conditions that are so important for the expansion and their consistent application," explained Dennis Rendschmidt, Managing Director of the Association of German Machine and Plant Construction (VDMA).
Wind power expansion similar to the previous year
In the first half of 2022, 238 new wind turbines with a combined output of 977 megawatts were installed. This means that the speed of wind power expansion is similar to that of the same period last year – it has even decreased slightly, according to the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) and the VDMA.
Since old plants were also shut down, the so-called net increase in the first half of the year was 878 megawatts, which is slightly more than in the previous year. At the end of the first half of the year there were 28,000 wind turbines in Germany with a total output of almost 57,000 megawatts.
Strong disparity among the federal states
The figures of the federal states in the first half of the year differ drastically: Around 80 percent of the newly built wind turbines were accounted for by four federal states: Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and Lower Saxony. No new wind turbines were built in the city states of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, but even the large states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, with nine and 21 turbines respectively, only had a very small proportion of new turbines.
The extension has only taken place in 62 of 294 districts, said Hermann Albers, President of the Federal Association of Wind Energy. This also makes it clear what area potential arises if all districts participate. A north-south divide has been a major concern for the industry for years, explains Albers. Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in particular, with very strong industry, have strong demand from industry. "We fear there will be a supply gap if the prime ministers don't actively commit to the federal government's goal of designating two percent of the area," said Albers.
Doubling of wind power areas to two percent
Settlements of renewable energy plants are a locational advantage. The goal of the federal government is to increase the share of electricity generated from renewable energies in electricity consumption to at least 80 percent by 2030. It is currently just under 50 percent.
In order to achieve the goal, two percent of the entire federal area on land should be designated for wind turbines. That's more than a doubling. In the future, the federal states will be legally obliged to provide more space. Different targets apply to the individual countries up to the end of 2032 because there are different requirements for the expansion of wind energy.
There are intermediate targets for 2027. More green electricity plays a central role in the federal government's strategy to achieve climate goals and become less dependent on fossil fuels such as Russian gas.
industry under pressure
According to Albers, the average approval period for a wind turbine is 60 months. The industry has been calling for this to be significantly shortened for years. The slow pace of expansion in recent years has exacerbated the industry's problems. The reasons are also cost increases for materials and competitive pressure from cheap suppliers, for example from China.
The industry has come under considerable pressure, said Dennis Rendschmidt, Managing Director of VDMA Power Systems. The wind turbine manufacturer Nordex had announced that it would close its rotor blade production in Rostock. A combination of "cost-cutting competition" and insufficient market dynamics "is extremely dangerous," said Rendschmidt.
A reliable expansion of wind turbines in Germany is necessary. According to Rendschmidt, there are currently around 100,000 jobs in the entire industry. But once there were 40,000 to 50,000 more. This is the result of market slumps in recent years. If there is no "upward", more jobs are at risk.