Wind power expansion does not advance

In order to quickly become independent of Russian energy sources, Economics Minister Robert Habeck wants to accelerate the expansion of renewable energies. To this end, he wants to shorten approval procedures, reduce the number of objections and give expansion priority over nature conservation. To this end, the federal states are to release at least 2 percent of their land for wind power expansion. So much for the political will. In reality, however, things look different from political wishful thinking.


Weak wind power expansion in the first quarter

In the first quarter of 2022, the Federal Network Agency in Germany has just registered the commissioning of 100 new wind turbines. However, this is 33 turbines fewer than in the same period of the previous year. In this context, 2021 was already generally regarded as an exceptionally weak year in terms of expansion. The installed capacity was around 400 MW. In the same period in 2021, installed capacity was more than 30 percent higher. The new turbines are all onshore. Not a single offshore wind turbine went into operation in the first quarter. These figures are usually also reported by news agencies. What is largely not taken into account, however, is the dismantling of old turbines.

No progress with wind power expansion. Only 100 new turbines installed in 1st quarter. Decommissioning of old plants not taken into account in expansion targets.
No progress with wind power expansion. Only 100 new turbines installed in 1st quarter. Decommissioning of old plants not taken into account in expansion targets.

Many old plants are being dismantled

Since 2020, the 20-year EEG subsidy for the first wind power and solar plants has expired. While solar plants usually simply continue to operate without subsidies, the operation of wind power plants is no longer profitable for the operators. For this reason, more than 50 wind turbines with a total capacity of 55 MW were also deregistered with the Federal Network Agency in the first quarter of 2022. This corresponds approximately to the newly installed capacity, in January. The number of deconstructions will increase massively in the following years. As early as 2023, more than 15,000 plants will be affected by the end of subsidies. Experts assume that up to 1600 old wind turbines will be dismantled annually in the coming years.


Hardly any new wind turbines on areas of dismantled old turbines

In addition, new turbines are seldom erected on the sites of dismantled wind turbines. In the first quarter, this was the case at only one site in Schleswig-Holstein. However, the eight old turbines with a capacity of 16.1 megawatts are being replaced there by four new ones with a capacity of just 3.8 megawatts. Of course, when expanding wind power, one must look at the net increase, i.e. include the dismantlements.

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