Germany may lose 40% of wind jobs as projects grind to halt

Source: By Brian Parkin, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Germany’s wind power industry could shed about 40% of its jobs because of sliding interest among investors to build turbines on land, threatening a key driver of the nation’s ambitious clean energy targets.

Environmental rules are snagging license approval for scores of onshore projects, causing delays of as long as two years, according to a report by Psephos GmbH for Germany’s VDMA machine makers lobby group. As developers and investors shy away from auctions and wading through the thicket of red tape, construction of new parks is grinding to a halt and putting jobs in jeopardy.

As many as 25,000 jobs in the industry could be lost from a core of 65,000, according to Psephos. Net new onshore capacity dropped from 5.3 gigawatts in 2017 to 2.4 gigawatts last year and to a mere 0.3 gigawatts in the first six months of 2019.

That’s far short of the 4.7 gigawatts of net new onshore capacity needed annually for Germany to create a 65% share for renewables in the power mix, up from about 43% now, according to government estimates.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is embracing a number of measures to speed up approval of new onshore wind sites, including improving municipal tax breaks and setting a 1 kilometer limit (0.6 miles) between new projects and housing. Germany hosts about 30,000 operational onshore turbines, the most of any nation in the EU-28.

Only last month, Vestas Wind Systems A/S said it will cut about 590 jobs in Germany and Denmark because of lower demand. Siemens Gamesa Renewables Energy SA announced in 2017 it would cut almost a quarter of its staff or 6,000 jobs after a merger. Nordex SE said in the same year it would cut as many as 500 jobs.