With 44.947 MW, Germany has the most wind power capacity [32%] installed in Europe and was the leader in new installations [47%] 2015. Last year 26.772 wind turbines on-and offshore generated 13.3% of the electricity in the country. Wind made the largest contribution to generating electricity from renewable energy sources with 86 terawatt hours total and it is also the largest employer among the renewables with 149.200 jobs. In a worldwide comparison, Germany comes in third with 10% of the installed capacity, right behind China [34%] and the United States [17%].
Wind energy investments
Wind energy was the strongest investment division 2015, which reached 66.5% [€9.7 billion] of the entire renewable investment volume of €14.5 billion. Although 2015 recorded the second highest investment volume to date, investments decreased by 20% compared to the record year 2014 [€12.1 billion]. €5.2 billion were invested in onshore wind power, the investment volume offshore added up to €4.5 billion.
Expansion of wind energy
The new installation of wind turbines increased by 10% compared to the prior year. 1,115 wind turbines with a maximum total capacity of 3536 MW were installed on the mainland in 2015. Offshore 546 units with a peak power of 2,283 MW were connected to the grid.
35% of all installed onshore wind turbines in Germany can be found in wind farms in the two strongest developing states Lower Saxony [8.602 MW] and Schleswig-Holstein [5.896 MW]. For the third year in a row, Schleswig-Holstein is with 23.8% the leader in the State comparison regarding the gross changes, followed by North Rhine-Westphalia [11.3%] and Lower Saxony [11.1%].
Development of wind turbines
Wind technology has developed greatly in recent years. The trend toward larger and more powerful wind turbines continues. Since the turn of the Millennium, the 2 to 3 megawatt class dominates the market, but the importance of the 3 to 5-megawatt class is increasing significantly.
2015 the power of a newly installed wind turbine on land averaged 2,727 kW. That’s 144% more than in the year 2000 [1,115 kW]. Today the average rotor diameter of a turbine is with 105 m 81% higher than in the year 2000 [58 m]. The hub height also increased by 73% [71 m] to 123 meters. Offshore, the average power of the newly installed units was 4.145 kW. The rotor diameter is just below 120 m and the hub height 89 m.
Jobs in the wind energy industry
The German wind energy industry is booming, creating thousands of jobs. In 2014, 149.200 people in Germany were working in the wind industry – 130.500 of them worked onshore and 18.700 offshore. The employment has increased by 8% compared to the previous year. With a share of 42%, the wind energy industry is the largest employer among the renewable energies [355.400 jobs total] and the only one that increased in 2014.
The German population is strongly supporting the energy transformation. According to a representative survey by TNS Emnid on behalf of the Renewable Energy Agency [AEE], 93% of the respondents find the further expansion of renewable energy important. Inter-generational equity and climate protection are the priorities according to the respondents. 59% of the respondents would accept wind turbines in their own living environment. The agreement increases to 72% if the respondents already have experience with wind farms in their neighborhood. According to the survey results, fossil fuels are less accepted by the consumers. Only 7% of the respondents said they would be comfortable with a coal power plant in their own neighborhood.
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