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German market collapse hits European onshore wind stats

Only 2.9GW of land-based capacity added in EU in H1, while offshore installation rises to 1.9GW

A dramatic collapse of wind additions on land in Germany has dragged down European onshore wind installation figures during the first half of 2019, while additions at sea rose, led by new installations in the UK.

Europe installed 2.9GW of new onshore wind capacity in the period, down from 3.3GW in the first half of 2018, while offshore wind additions rose to 1.9GW in the first half, up from 1.1GW added in the year-ago period, industry group WindEurope said.

Germany experienced its worst half year in terms of onshore installations since 2000, with only 287MW added. The 82% decline compared to the first half of 2018 placed the former European market leader third behind France (523MW added) and Sweden (459MW).

“It was a good start to the year for offshore wind growth. But onshore wind installations were poor these past 6 months,” WindEurope chief policy officer, Pierre Tardieu, said.

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“Germany had the lowest first half of the year for new onshore wind installations since 2000. Permitting challenges remain the key bottleneck: 11 GW of onshore wind are stuck in the permitting process in Germany.”

Tardieu added that the transition to auctions in Germany, where so-called ‘community projects’ were allowed to bid in tenders without a permit back in 2017, has been “messy.”

“Many of these projects still need to be built.”

Germany’s wind power federation BWE and manufacturers’ group VDMA Power Systems also blamed the permitting bottleneck for the abysmal figures.

The wind groups also lowered their forecast for additions in all of 2019 to 1.5GW. That compares with an average installation of 4.6GW during the years 2014 to 2017.

“The federal government is talking about achieving ambitious expansion and climate protection targets for 2030 and 2050, but offers no perspective [on how to reach those],” BWE president Hermann Albers said, demanding of Chancellor Angela Merkel to hold a wind energy summit in order to find ways to reverse the downwards trend.

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For all of Europe, the industry expects additions to pick up in the second half of the year as Nordic installations figures are strongest in the summer months, which is underpinned by turbine orders in Sweden and Norway. Construction activity is also seen picking up in Spain, following wind tenders there in 2017 and 2018.

In offshore wind, additions were led by the UK (931MW), Denmark (374MW) and Belgium (370MW), while Germany installed 252MW. UK additions include Hornsea 1 which, when completed, will be the world’s largest wind farm with 1.2 GW.

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