Wind Power in Germany

Windmills off of Germany's North Coast
Turbines off Germany’s north coast
benefit from consistent offshore winds

Editor’s Note: Wind power is one of the most proven sources of economical renewable energy. In optimal areas, where winds are strong and consistent, prices as low as US $.03 per kilowatt-hour are possible. But wind power isn’t without its challenges.

Wind turbines often have to be sited offshore to get the best winds, where installation, maintenance and connections to the power grid are most difficult. Fluctuating winds can cause power surges on a power distribution grid that can crash the whole system. These problems are manageable, however, through modern load balancing systems and power attenuators on each wind turbine to reduce output in very high winds.

With single wind turbines now routinely capable of three megawatts of output – enough to power 3,000 homes per turbine – wind power has become too cheap and too practical to ignore.

No country on earth is more determined to realize the potential of wind energy than Germany, although the Danes and the British are giving them a run for the money. With virtually no energy resources in-country other than coal, and a national consensus that pretty much rules out nuclear power, the wealthy German nation is likely to extend its lead in wind power.

German officials claim that by 2050 their country will be powered 50% by renewables – solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels. Considering Germany is one of the world’s largest consumers of energy, over 15 quadrillion BTUs in 2003, which included over 100 gigawatt-years of electricity, they have a long way to go. Currently Germany produces only 3% of their energy from renewable sources; about (taking into account net yields) 9% of their electricity from wind. Yet Germany’s lead over other major nations in wind energy is impressive and growing. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

The German wind industry in 2003

installed 1700 propellers rated at 2,645 MW. Although this figure is 18.5% down from the 3,247 MW newly connected in 2002, it is a good in light of the mainly negative economic trends of the last months of the year. Peter Ahmels, President of the German Wind Energy Association, stated that no other country can point to such growth in absolute numbers. Last year more than 22% was added to installed capacity making Germany the world’s second most important wind market. As of the end of June 2004, the total wind energy capacity installed in Germany amounted to almost 15,327 MW. This makes Germany the world leader in the use of wind power.

Nationwide the power stations produce 14,645 MW. In a normal wind year they could produce 5.9% of the national power supply – another indicator that the use of wind power is growing.

Noteworthy Capacity Installed in the German States

It is clear that Germany’s top state for wind energy is Lower Saxony with 3,922 MW of installed capacity. Thuringia added the most by far of all the federal states in comparison to its total installed capacity. Double-coasted Schleswig-Holstein added insignificantly more plants to the grid than Thuringia in absolute terms. Wind-blessed Baltic Mecklenburg-West Pomerania did not exploit its potential, adding only 19 machines in the first three quarters, 3 machines less than added by the state of Hesse in the same period.

Manufacturers’ share of the German market in 2003

Vestas Logo

Two manufacturers did especially well last year: Vestas Deutschland GmbH and REpower Systems AG. While new installation numbers declined generally, they increased their output and grew their market shares. Vestas climbed by 5.6% to 23.5% and REpower added 3.9% to reach 10.7%.

Vestas sold 264 of their 2-MW machines in Germany and 55 to Austria, but there are large deficits in the service area. Vestas received a poor rating in the latest BWE survey of satisfaction among operating companies. Another important point to mention in connection with Vestas is its merger with NEG Micon.

REpower Systems Logo

REpower wants to concentrate on foreign business this year; they aim to put up 50 turbines outside Germany. Fritz Vahrenholt, head of REpower, was also glad that the gap with GE Wind Energy shrank to 14 MW. It is expected that REpower will outperform GE in Germany, since they are widely considered to have a better range of machines and more orders for the MM82, the new 2-MW converter. GE counters that their first calculations show that they doubled the capacity delivered over 2002, which was 637 MW. If that indicator should be confirmed, the Americans will push Enercon from second place in the international ranking. Together with some 889 MW on the German market, Enercon installed more than 1,100 MW in 2003.

Enercon Energy for the World Logo

Enercon spokesman Andreas Doser says that orders are well booked for the first months of 2005. By the end of the year he expects Enercon to have a greater number of machines and a bigger market share.

The merger with Vestas should help NEG Micon Deutschland, although they again failed to meet their objectives. Again, against the set by CEO Erik Laursen to reach a market share in the double digits. This results from unforeseen delays in a number of large projects.

AN Windenergie Logo

AN Windenergie GmbH is unsatisfied with the 5% market share it reached. They are aiming to get back to between eight and ten per cent. They want to lead with their 2.3-MW machines with 82-metre rotor diameters. The new 3.5-MW machine will be launched in the latter half of this year. This machine is optimal for offshore projects in Great Britain and in Germany, where there are no height restrictions.

Nordex Logo

Nordex AG crashed from 8.7% to 4.8% market share, causing them to implement a consolidation program. However, it is expected that it will take time for the measures to have an effect. For this year, their prognosis of their market share is lean: They want to reach at least the 5 % level.

DeWind Logo

Another decline was to be seen in DeWind GmbH’s market share – 1.3%. They are stronger in Austria (and internationally) than in Germany, but important for them is not where they’re growing, but that they are growing. For the future they are working to get a bigger slice of the German pie for themselves.

Like DeWind, Fuhrlaender AG also sold more plants abroad than in Germany in 2003. It gained around 1% of the home market again, which is not expected to change this year. There are more foreign orders on the books, for example, in China.

About the Author: Gordon Feller is the Director of ReNewUSA and editor of Urban Age Magazine. In addition to extensive journalistic coverage of the worldwide energy sector and emerging environmental businesses, Feller has served as a senior-level advisor to companies investing in new technologies, processes and solutions. The list of clients ranges from small and little known firms to large well known firms: HP, Columbia Chemical, Phelps Dodge, Chevron, Apple, AT&T, IBM. Feller’s first work assessing environmentally sound economic policies was published during his freshman year at Columbia University. He continued there for four more years, finishing with a graduate degree in international affairs. He can be reached via

Wind Turbine
Wind turbines generating 3.0
megawatts, such as this one from
Vestas, are becoming common

Pfleiderer, after its most successful year, left the wind business. The newcomers had erected 27 machines totaling some 19 MW. Pfleiderer sold its offshore segment (with the 5-MW Multibrid plant) to Prokon Nord Energiesysteme GmbH. The pilot plant is to start operating in Bremerhaven.

In addition to the Multibrid machine, the first pilot plants from GE and W2E (Wind to Energy GmbH), REpower will start operating its new 5-MW giant propeller – so there is no shortage of new technical developments on the German market.

But that has not lulled BWE president Ahmels into a sense of complacency. “The wind industry is having to contend with headwinds that are getting stronger.” He refers to the recently enacted placement regulations in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. New building laws will also make planning more difficult. “The worsening of the Renewable Energy Sources Act is not going to make wind power expansion any easier.”

With steady growth in Europe, a bull market under way in the U.S., and a string of projects under development in several other countries, the global outlook for wind energy equipment in Germany is very bright.

Bundesverband WindEnergie Logo

German Wind Energy Association

Herrenteichstr. 1

49074 Osnabrueck, Germany

Tel.: 49-541-35060-15

Fax: 49-541-35060-20

Publications of the German Wind Energy Association available in English:

Wind Energy 2004 – Market Survey

Wind Energy Knowledge – Multimedia Insights and Outlook

Handbook of Renewable Energies in the European Union I and II

Wind Power Plants – Fundamentals, Design, Construction, and Operation

“New Energy” is regularly published by the German Wind Energy Association

About the Author:
Gordon Feller is the CEO of Urban Age Institute ( During the past twenty years he has authored more than 500 magazine articles, journal articles or newspaper articles on the profound changes underway in politics, economics, and ecology – with a special emphasis on sustainable development. Gordon is the editor of Urban Age Magazine, a unique quarterly which serves as a global resource and which was founded in 1990. He can be reached at and he is available for speaking to your organization about the issues raised in this and his other numerous articles published in EcoWorld.

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2 Responses to “Wind Power in Germany”
  1. ethan says:

    Is it not good to have wind turbines in the water? If someone reads this can you please send me the answer at


  2. dustin says:

    it is good because no one can see it and it is windy out there


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