Germany Expands its Top Spot in Wind Power

The wind industry in Germany has increased its global lead in installed turbines. It now is three times larger than the second largest wind generator, the United States.

FRANKFURT, Germany – Last year, Germany increased its capacity by 1,668 MW, according to the Federal Wind Energy Association BWE. With total capacity of 6,113 MW, Germany is the “undisputed wind world champion,” and well ahead of the 2,500 MW of installed capacity in the U.S. The country connected 1,496 new turbines to the grid, with a capacity of 1,668 MW, which is 100 MW more than in 1999. In total, Germany now has 9,375 turbines that generate 11.5 billion kWh of electricity, meeting 2.5 percent of domestic demand. “This record year shows how important it was that the Bundestag passed the renewable energy law (EEG)” last April, says BWE president Peter Ahmels. The federal law regulates the minimum price paid by grid operators to wind turbine operators. The EEG has boosted investor confidence in wind power, and he predicts that turbines will eliminate 20 million tonne of carbon dioxide emissions by 2005, out of Germany’s goal of 80 million tonne. This level could increase if the European Union passes a new guideline for renewable energy sources and if the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg rules that the feed law does not consider support for wind generation a subsidy. By region, Niedersachsen is the largest generator of wind power with 1,748 MW of capacity, followed by Schleswig-Holstein with 1,175 MW. The largest turbine manufacturer was Enercon with 27.4 percent of new installations. Enron Wind accounted for 14.9 percent, followed by Vestas (13.2), AN Windenergie (11.1) and NEG Micon (10.9 percent). The German wind energy industry had total revenue of four billion marks last year, and employed 30,000 workers, according to BWE. New turbines have a rated output of 1.5 MW, rotor diameter of 70 m and a hub height of 100 m. Such units generate 3.5 million kWh a year of electricity, enough for 4,000 residents. There was 15,900 MW of installed wind capacity by October 2000, of which 10,000 MW was in Europe. Behind Germany and the U.S., the main wind energy countries are Spain (2,100 MW) and Denmark (2,000 MW). The European Wind Energy Association has set a target of 60,000 MW across Europe by 2010, of which Germany will account for 22,000 MW.

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