German government expects smaller wind, solar power roll-out

10 per cent less wind, solar power capacity in coming years

solar power

Germany’s Economy Ministry confirmed that wind and solar power projects that fail to come to fruition for a variety of reasons will not be replaced.

BERLIN, June 8 (Reuters) – The German government expects around 10 percent less wind and solar power capacity to be built over the next few years than it has allowed for under reforms to its renewable energy laws.

The Economy Ministry confirmed on Wednesday when asked by Reuters that planned projects that fail to come to fruition will not be replaced.

The government’s draft law foresees that around 10 percent of the wind and solar capacity tendered at auction will never be built, for example due to the insolvency of an operator.

The changes are aimed at slowing the pace of renewable energy expansion to curb costs and ensure growth is in step with new power grid infrastructure.

According to the proposals – which were passed by the cabinet on Wednesday – the amount of onshore wind installations will be limited to 2.8 gigawatts (GW) per year until 2019.

If 10 percent of that capacity is not built, however, the actual amount of additional capacity will be reduced to around 2.5 GW. Capacity which is lost because older wind turbines are dismantled will also not be replaced.

For solar power, an upper limit of 600 megawatts (MW) to be tendered at auction has been set, which would be reduced to just under 550 megawatts if 10 percent of capacity is lost.

Julia Verlinden, an energy expert for the Greens, said the original limits would already put Berlin’s climate goals at risk: “And then the government reduces the amount of new capacity by the back door to around 2.5 gigawatts.”

Generous green subsidies have led to a boom in renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, bumping up the share of green energy in the power mix to just over 30 percent.

A key tenet of the reforms is moving away from guaranteed feed-in-tariffs to a competitive auction system from 2017 where producers of green energy will receive payments for their power if they win tenders.

Pilot projects for the new auction system had envisaged that volumes from wind parks and solar plants that weren’t built would be put out to tender again at a later date. However, this has been omitted from the draft law.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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