The mood is particularly good in the offshore wind energy sector. "Overall, we are pleased with the new EEG," says Sebastian Sahm of the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation in Berlin. "Remuneration is set at 19.4 cents per kilowatt-hour to the end of 2018, with a goal for expansion to 6.5 gigawatts by 2020 and to 15 gigawatts in the longer term by 2030. This finally provides secure planning conditions in our sector and in the North German port cities," said Sahm.
Things are certainly humming these days in the German North Sea. Since the current inauguration of the Meerwind offshore wind farm, there are now 900 MW of offshore wind energy feeding the grid. By the end of next year it will be 3,000 megawatts, when the Butendiek (wpd), Nordsee-Ost (RWE), DanTysk (Vattenfall), Riffgrund (Dong), Globaltech 1 and Borkum (Trianel/municipal utilities) offshore projects have been completed.
New land-based wind turbines are also coming up like asparagus in season, with additional construction of more than 1,700 megawatts, according to Deutsche WindGuard, at an average capacity per turbine of around three megawatts. Although the total land-based installed capacity now exceeds 35,000 megawatts, German Wind Energy Association (BWE) President Hermann Albers is critical of the new EEG. "It has introduced significant setbacks. Many projects now have to be recalculated, and there is appreciable pressure to accelerate ongoing projects given the debates in Bavaria about minimum distances and other amendments. We therefore expect above-average added land-based wind energy construction of 3,500 megawatts for 2014, but prospects are uncertain after that. With planning periods of three to five years, repeated amendments to the law and the announced modifications to the system increase the uncertainty of ROI forecasts for tender bids," explains Albers. As spokesperson for German wind turbine manufacturers, Albers is particularly skeptical when it comes to the planned tendering process. "When the calls for tender arrive, we have to know that citizens, municipalities and businesses will continue to be able to support the energy transition in the future."
Who will end up with the biggest slice of pie in the wind energy business remains to be seen. What is certain is that not just Germany, but all of Europe is seeking to expand renewable energies. For two main reasons: more climate protection and more energy independence. That is why the EU Council defined a new energy and climate framework its meeting in late October. "We want to reach at least 40 percent by 2030. That means we want to add the next 20 percent not in 30 years, but in ten years," explained German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding: "The EU wants to achieve at least a 27 percent share of renewable energies. In other words – and this is very important for Germany – this is a minimum goal. We could have considered a higher goal here, but we agreed to compromise on this minimum of 27 percent."
Hildegard Müller, Chair of the German Federation of Energy and Water Management (BDEW), is entirely satisfied with the agreement by the European leaders, which sends an important signal in advance of the international 2015 Climate Conference in Paris. "The EU is once again fulfilling its pioneering role in climate protection, and the energy sector can more securely plan for investments after the year 2020," says Hildegard Müller.
Even without this, the share of renewable energies in German electricity production is now almost 30 percent. This places renewables well ahead of coal and nuclear. What only the boldest commentators predicted ten years ago has become reality today. And the energy system has not collapsed. Nor will it do so in the future, as scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy Systems Engineering (IWES) are working to ensure. "If renewable energies are connected to and managed by combined power plants, together with storage solutions, they can cover demand at any time and ensure stable frequency and voltage," says Dr. Kurt Rohrig, Deputy Director at IWES, concerning the most important conclusion of the recently completed Kombikraftwerk2 research project.
The upshot: renewable and stable can go together. Power systems engineering for integrating renewable energies is at HANNOVER MESSE. Deutsche Messe stages the Wind show every two years as part of HANNOVER MESSE, leveraging synergies with the world's largest transmission and fluid engineering trade fair (MDA) as well as with industrial automation and industrial supply. Current renewable energy challenges for business and politics are discussed in an international arena at HANNOVER MESSE, with a strong focus on both technological innovations and the grid stability required for system integration.