Expert on wind industry crisis: "That was a crash with announcement"


Expert on wind power industry crisis

Enercon is one of the largest German manufacturers of wind turbines. Norbert Allnoch from the IWR talks about job cuts at the company.

Pinwheel with broken flights in front of gray sky

Wind turbine with broken wing in NRW Photo: Christophe Gateau / dpa / picture alliance

taz: Mr. Allnoch, the wind energy company Enercon is working on a large scale to reduce jobs in Germany, after plants are hardly ever built in Germany. Was it a mistake of the company to concentrate so much on the home market?

Norbert Allnoch: I would not say mistakes. Enercon has trusted that, given the nuclear phase-out and the climate debate, German policy makers are serious about the energy transition and will not drop onshore wind power. This trust has now been disappointed. From an entrepreneurial point of view, I find the long-term strategy of Enercon quite plausible. Also, the company's decision to focus on land-based assets was not wrong, because the global offshore business is completely different. In the future, completely new players will appear here, such as the billion-dollar oil and gas industry, which is also facing a transformation.

is the founder and director of the International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies (IWR) in Munster. It emerged from a university research group and exists since 1996 as an independent, independent institution.

Can the slump in sales in Germany for a large manufacturer not be compensated for on international markets?

In other European countries, Enercon will not be able to absorb the collapse of wind power in Germany at the moment. Outside of Europe, rather, but then local production is in demand. Enercon will therefore rebuild a part of what the company in Germany is reducing manufacturing elsewhere. From the point of view of German industrial policy, the current decline of the wind industry recalls the collapse of the photovoltaic market between 2012 and 2014. But there is one difference: German wind power companies can now build capacity in other countries, which the German solar industry was not able to do at that time because the international solar markets are still there were not sufficiently developed.

German politics has driven the wind industry into the current crisis, it is always said. But what does that mean in concrete terms? The allowances are not so bad …

In fact, the Federal Network Agency's tenders have not been bidding enough to exploit the volume since 2018. The compensation rates are therefore not primary, but missing approvals. However, it was a crash with an announcement, because there had been a boom in 2017 as a result of changes in the legal framework due to pull-forward effects.

Such strong market fluctuations as a result of political decisions are always poisonous for companies, and the Federal Government must be persuaded to do so. Fatal: shrinking the wind power industry in Germany, should also hit the domestic research.

But not only the federal government is to blame?

Since the site permits are the bottleneck, also the federal states play a key role. You have to accelerate the procedures. The licensing hurdles, be it due to biodiversity concerns or objections from neighbors, have always been there, but today the proceedings are suddenly much longer than they used to be. And then of course there are such federal states, where the addition of the 10-H scheme, so the minimum distance to the residential development in ten times the height of the plant, was virtually completely stopped.

It could come even more extreme for the energy turnaround: In 2021, the first old systems will be excluded from the statutory remuneration and then have to assert themselves on the market. If they do not succeed, they will be dismantled. Is it conceivable that even more wind power will be shut down than rebuilt?

The scenario is real. Decisive are the electricity prices on the stock exchange. These increase with fewer green power plants, ie less price pressure, or the elimination of fossil production. But what we actually need is a separate market segment for real green electricity, where higher prices are likely to be achieved than on today's market of so-called gray electricity. The plants need prices of 4 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour, then many of them will be able to stay on the grid for a few more years.

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