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German onshore wind malaise continues as auction fails to attract bidders

Bids for only 208MW out of 650MW on offer were successful as permitting issues persist

Germany’s Federal Networks Agency (BNetzA) published the result of yet another heavily undersubscribed onshore wind auction as a permitting-related malaise in the industry continues to depress bids.

Only 208MW of valid bids were successful – less than a third of the 650MW of wind capacity on land on offer. Only one bid had been excluded due to a formal mistake.

The agency didn’t immediately tell why the tender was undersubscribed, but the result was similar to that of an auction in May, when the BNetzA had blamed permitting bottlenecks at state levels for the lackluster interest in onshore wind tenders.

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As the permitting issues have not been addressed since, the crisis at Germany’s wind sector is likely to worsen.

Some 11GW of onshore wind projects are currently being held up in permitting procedures in Germany, wind power federation BWE said.

Continent-wide lobby group WindEurope was concerned.

“It’s disconcerting when the capacity onshore wind projects are winning at auctions is falling by the round in Europe’s biggest wind market. It’s clear that the permitting process in Germany is not fit for purpose," said WindEurope Head of Advocacy & Messaging Viktoriya Kerelska.

"The fact that’s it taking longer and longer to get a permit is undermining Germany’s target of 65% renewables in electricity by 2030 just as we need to be intensifying build-out efforts.

"The German Government must now act decisively to put wind farm permitting back on track. And should enact concrete measures after the wind energy crisis meeting that’s set for after the summer break. Failure to do so will mean insufficient volumes to deliver on the Energiewende, end-consumers paying higher prices and the German wind supply chain put under increasing pressure.”

Prices for successful bids again were at or near the top of the €62 per megawatt hour price ceiling, with no successful bid lower than €62/MWh.

Julia Verlinden, spokeswoman for energy policy in Germany's parliament for the Green Party opposition, called the development at recent onshore wind auctions "dramatic."

"For an effecitve climate protection, we need much more renewable energy," Verlinden said.

"The governing coalition finally must send out clear signals for the expansion of wind energy instead of blocking itself in working groups."

Energy minister Peter Altmaier after the summer recess plans a crisis meeting to discuss falling onshore wind installation figures, but it is unknown what the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel pretends to do to counter the collapse of wind additions on land.

UPDATED with comment by Germany's wind power federation BWE

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