|2014 was a record year for Germany’s onshore wind sector. Photo credit: Andreas via Flickr.
By Anders Lorenzen
Germany installed a record amount of onshore wind power in 2014, with a total of 4.75 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity added to the grid, the German Engineering Association (VDMA) and the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) have said.
This takes the grand total of installed onshore wind power capacity up to 38.11 GW, the highest amount of onshore wind power capacity installed in any European country, cementing Germany as a green energy powerhouse.
Post, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany accelerated it’s flagship Energiwende programme while pledging to phase out nuclear entirely by 2022. This approach had been criticised by some industry experts as it resulted in an increase in coal usage and thereby increased carbon emissions.
But it seems now that it’s heavy investments in renewables is starting to bear fruit, last year 25% of Germany’s electricity came from renewables.
And the nuclear decommission process has freed up land for wind turbines, aiding the growth of the onshore wind industry.
In comparison UK’s total installed onshore wind capacity stands at just under 8 GW, so in just one year Germany have added more than half of that.
One of the problems with Germany’s installed onshore wind power capacity, had been that the majority of it, had been concentrated in the north of Germany, as there is larger opposition to wind turbines in the richer and more conservative southern Germany. But the 2014 stats show that installment was spread out across the entire country, covering all sixteen federal states.
Of the new capacity, 1.14 GW came from repowering, which means older turbines were replaced with newer more powerful, modern and efficient turbines, capable of generating more energy than those they replace. In essence that mean you’re increasing capacity while not taking up more land.
Due to repowering, 544 wind turbines with a total capacity of 364 megawatts (MW) were dismantled meaning the net increase is actually 4.38 GW.
Lars Bondo Krogsgaard chairman of the Wind Turbine Steering Committee at the VDMA, said that although some federal states are putting aside new land for wind turbines, there must be increased focus on repowering in the future.
The German growth in onshore wind in 2014 is up 58% compared to 2013 levels and is estimated it will drop slightly in 2015 with VDMA expecting new capacity added will be between 3.5 – 4 GW. installment rates will then continue to decline in 2016, meaning 2014 is set to be seen as the year the industry reached peak installment rates.
These encouraging growth stats are likely to be welcomed by clean energy campaigners, again signalling out Germany for how a green economy should look like.
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