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Expansion of wind energy utilization in Germany


As the forerunner to the Renewable Energy Act (REA), the Electricity Feed-in From Renewables Act dated December 7, 1990 bound energy supply companies to buying electricity generated with renewables and guaranteed electricity producers minimum tariffs. The figure below shows how the wind capacity installed has changed since. Installed offshore wind capacity reaches for the first time almost 1 GW in 2014 and increases in the following years.

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 Net capacity of installed onshore and offshore wind turbines in Germany

Data sources: [Keiler and Häuser]; [Fraunhofer IEE]



A wind capacity of 5193 MW was installed new in 2014. Onshore, record expansion of 4670 MW was achieved, surpassing the previous record year (2002) by 47 percent. The figure below illustrates the extent to which annual capacity expansion increased once the 1991 Electricity Feed-in From Renewables Act came into effect. Whilst newly installed capacity before 1998 was »thousands of MW«, it reached peaks in 2002 and 2014 with 3187 MW and 4670 MW respectively. The high expansion figures in 2002 can be interpreted as a delayed, positive reaction to the REA coming into force in April 2000, and the high expansion level in 2014 as a pull-forward effect due to the new REA allowance regulations coming into effect.

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 Annual installation of onshore wind capacity in Germany

Data source: [Keiler and Häuser]


In 2014, expansion for onshore WTs was far higher over all quarters than in previous years. Implementation of the new REA in August 2014 means that in the future, payment will be calculated based on expansion. If annual onshore expansion is over 2600 MW net, payment is to be lowered from January 2016 in line with the flexible cap on a quarterly basis (see also here) (§§ 3, 29 REA). A diminution of the expansion in the following years can be explained with the fact, that a lot of projects were preponed. 



The EEG Amendment 2017 has been in force since the first of January 2017. This states that the remuneration for all renewable energy generation shall be determined using tendering procedures. There is an expansion quota for each year that corresponds to the EEG expansion path shown in the figure. It also shows the expansion goals used for the German government’s climate protection plan in 2016, as well as the goals of Scenario B of the network development plan.


The expansion path in the following figure represents an assumption by Fraunhofer IEE regarding future development. This includes the tendering quantities currently required by law, the expansion in 2018 on the basis of existing permits and the decommissioning of wind turbines after they have reached their 20-year lifespan.

The expansion will be slowed down by the tendering process after 2018. Due to the discontinuation of the turbines from the strong expansion years 2000 - 2005, the expansion will be very flat between 2020 and 2025. The target of 69.6 GW in 2030 forms the current climate protection plan of the Federal Government 2016 [Bundesumweltministerium] and, building on this, the scenario B2030 in the scenario framework to update the grid development plan 2030 [50Hertz Scenario].





Past development and expansion scenarios for wind energy on and offshore

Data sources: [Keiler and Häuser][Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit][Bundesregierung Aktionsplan];[Bundesministerium_Klimaschutzplan][50Hertz Szenario][BNetzA_Hintergrundpapiere]



The goals for wind energy expansion on the National Action Plan for Renewable Energies, in accordance with Directive 2009/28/EG for achieving a share of 20 per cent of renewable energy in the EU by 2020, are also shown. It has in the meantime been possible to realise these expansion goals due to the great number of new installations over the previous years, although the target of a 38.6 per cent share of renewable energy in the electricity sector has not yet been achieved [Bundesumweltministerium].


The expansion of wind energy started with the Grid Feed-in Act of 7 December 1990, which compelled energy supply companies to accept renewably generated electricity while assuring a minimum rate of feed-in remuneration.