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A quarter of German wind turbines at risk of going offline as fixed remuneration expires

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Almost a quarter of Germany’s wind turbines require a new business model when fixed payments under the country’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) expire after their 20-year guaranteed support period, says a study by digital energy system solutions provider Nefino.

The study commissioned by Swiss energy company Alpiq also found that minimum distance rules for wind parks to the nearest settlement make it difficult to replace old turbines with new larger ones.

“The consequences vary greatly from region to region. Northern federal states, where wind energy was expanded early on, are more affected by the end of EEGsupport than southern Germany.”

Nefino’s Jan-Hendrik Piel.

Fifty-two percent of the 8,700 facilities affected by distance rules and expiring renewables payments are located in the four northern German states Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein.

However, overall the distance rules have more impact in the south: In Baden-Wuerttemberg, only 16 percent of facilities can be modernised, in Bavaria even less, according to the study.

To keep turbines running at a profit, Alpiq proposes so-called power purchase agreements (PPA), often long-term delivery agreements that many experts think will become the new default procedure after the feed-in tariff period ends.

Starting in 2021 and throughout the 2020s, many of Germany’s pioneer wind turbines, solar PV installations and biogas plants will stop receiving fixed feed-in tariffs, meaning many gigawatts in renewable capacity may be shut down if they can’t find a new business model to run on.

This potential loss of renewable power capacity comes at a decisive time for Germany’s energy transition, as the country plans to increase the share of renewables in power consumption in order to reach its emission reduction targets and to gradually increase the use of electricity in all sectors.

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