On Tuesday, Germany announced some new policy reforms to its
high-profile 'energy revolution'. Some
reports have suggested the country is slamming on the
brakes to prevent renewable energy further pushing up prices. In
fact, with these new reforms, the government's main priority seems
to be protecting big business while continuing to roll out
Germany's energy transition - the
Energiewende - has largely been a bottom-up grassroots
movement over the past 25 years. Citizens and energy cooperatives
account for roughly half the investments. Large utilities are only
just now getting on board.
Firms like RWE and Eon have seen their share prices drop
dramatically over the past four years. During that time, wind and
solar power have largely offset demand for expensive peak
generation capacity, lowering wholesale prices for
four years in a row.
The real policy changes designed to rescue Germany's Big Four
will be announced later, when the discussion turns to capacity
payments. But this week's reforms could help those big companies in
a number of ways.
At the beginning of the month, Renewables International
began a new series of charts to track the plight of conventional
baseload power in Germany under wholesale prices too low for
Onshore wind is community wind
At the end of 2013, Germany had
33.8 gigawatts of wind power installed. Only about one
gigawatt of that was offshore. By 2020, Germany is to have 6.5
gigawatts in the water. There is no such target for onshore, which,
in contrast, is to be prevented from growing too quickly (see
A big difference between offshore and onshore wind power is that
local communities don't have a stake in offshore in the same way.
German wind organization BWE, which mainly represents citizen
owners of onshore turbines, is
remarkably lukewarm about offshore, when compared to
British and American wind organizations.