ENERGY SHIFT

Death by 1,000 Subsidy Cuts

wind
Ill winds are blowing through the renewable sector:
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Small renewable energy producers, such as wind collectives, play a key role in Germany’s transition to green power, and supply much of the country’s electricity.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Under Germany’s energy transition plans, it wants 80% of electricity to be supplied from renewable sources by 2050.
    • Total subsidies for renewable energy recently reached €25.7 billion ($28 billion) per year.
    • About 12 percent of electricity consumption in Germany is supplied by onshore wind-power facilities.
  • Audio

    Audio

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For months, Hermann Albers has exhorted and even begged the German government to give up planned changes in the way it subsidizes wind energy.

As head of the German Wind Energy Association, Mr. Albers fears if current rules are changed, energy from onshore wind farms — the least expensive form of renewable energy — will be severely compromised.

For now the wind-power industry is actually flourishing. Windmills with an overall output of 3,540 megawatts were put into operation last year, according to the market-research company Deutsche Windgard. The only year with more new installations was 2014.

On German coastlines and inland, almost 26,000 windmills provide some 20 million households with green energy. About 12 percent of gross electricity consumption in Germany is generated by onshore wind-power facilities. The industry employs more than 130,000 and had revenues of €11.8 billion ($12.9 billion) in 2014.

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