Library from Germany
Conglomerate Siemens AG, wracked by a wide-ranging corruption scandal, will cut up to 4 percent of its work force worldwide, or about 17,200 jobs, a pair of newspapers reported Saturday. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the Munich-based company was set to shed the jobs -- mostly white-collar and administrative -- without citing any sources. ...The warning was a surprise for the conglomerate, whose diverse products include trams, turbines and telecommunications equipment, given that it had said in January that sales were expected to double the pace of the global economy.
Germany was replaced by the United States as the world's No.1 market for newly installed wind turbines last year due to falling subsidies, the German wind energy federation BWE said on Tuesday. While new installation of wind turbines worldwide rose about 31 percent overall to 20,076 megawatt (MW), new installations in Germany slumped 25 percent to 1,667 MW last year, the association said in a statement.
German utilities and wind turbine manufacturers have expressed concerns over the government's offshore wind energy target capacity of 15,000MW by 2020, deeming it technologically and economically unrealistic. The German government's target corresponds to the installation of around 3,000 large offshore wind turbines. Industry sources have voiced their concern by saying that the necessary infrastructure and servicing firms needed for the installation of these offshore wind turbines are scarce.
German utilities and wind turbine makers have dismissed the government's goal of boosting off-shore wind power capacity to 15,000 megawatts by 2020, citing a lack of resources and transmission lines, Financial Times Deutschland said. The goal, which is equivalent to 3,000 high-capacity wind turbines, is 'not viable, neither from an economic nor a technological point of view,' the paper quoted a spokesman from German utility E.ON AG (NYSE:EONGY) as saying. ...The legal reimbursement of 14 euro cents per kilowatt hour of off-shore wind power is sufficient but building transmission lines from the wind parks to consumers on the continent is not profitable enough to encourage investments, BWE managing director Ralf Bischof said.
Work on a transformer and cable housings to bring offshore wind power to Germany's mainland for the first time is on course for a likely start in October, utility E.ON's network division said on Monday. The alpha ventus wind park, also known as Borkum West and situated some 45 km north of the island of Borkum near the German-Dutch border, will be Germany's first such venture. "This wind park will probably start in October as the first of its kind in the North Sea," E.ON Netz said in a statement. Once the plant becomes operational, it will form the foundation to research and implement some 30 or more pending projects in the German North and Baltic Seas territories.
Economy minister Glos over the weekend accused the SPD's environment minister Sigmar Gabriel of looking at energy supply through "ideological goggles." Glos warned of a supply shortage by 2012 and rejected a thesis paper from the environment ministry which stated that supply in Germany was secure. Glos told weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche that "one could rather trust a hungry dog [guarding] sausage stocks" than trust the environment ministry with watching over the safety of power supply. It was therefore good, said Glos, that the security of energy supply is under the responsibility of the economy ministry. Gabriel, meanwhile, said lobbying against new coal units was putting secure supply in danger and that blocking new coal units may actually support longer lives for nuclear units.
Germany could face a serious energy shortage over the next decade if it doesn't start building new power plants, said the German Energy Agency. As a result, energy prices are likely to rise dramatically. By 2020, Germany could face an energy shortage that is equivalent to the output of 15 power plants, according to a study by the German Energy Agency (Dena), which could mean higher prices for consumers. ...Last week, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung opined that, in light of possible energy shortages, it was "ironic" that environment groups and residents protest replacing old power plants, as the newer models are actually less polluting.
A German energy boss has warned the country could experience long blackouts this summer due to a lack of power stations. Some government officials and renewable energy experts say he's needlessly spreading panic. ...In Germany, though, people expect that when they flip a switch or plug in an appliance, power will be in ready supply. This notion was put in doubt on Thursday, Feb. 28, when Juergen Grossmann, the head of German power giant RWE, warned that Germany and the rest of Europe could experience power outages lasting several days this summer due to a lack of power stations. "Power is growing short all over Europe because there are not enough power stations,"
The world’s largest wind turbine, the Enercon E-126. The turbine has a rotor blade width of 126 meters (413 feet). This new turbine is officially rated at 6 megawatts but is expected to produce at 7 megawatts.
German utilities are warning the government of bottlenecks in power transmission grids due to the difficulties of integrating higher shares of wind energy, Handelsblatt reported. The paper cited reports on the state of transmission networks German utilities are required to submit to the German grid regulator by tomorrow. The number of incidents has risen significantly over the past two years, the report said. Vattenfall Europe AG's transmission unit recorded 155 days where the situation was critical on grids last year, and 28 out of 29 days so far this year.
Renewable energy made up more than 14 percent of Germany's electricity consumption in 2007, but further progress may be hindered if government support is cut back, according to new statistics. ...Energy drawn from wind, solar, water, biomass and thermal heat accounted for 9 percent of Germany's total primary energy consumption last year ...
Federation president Johannes Lackmann said investment in renewable energy sources turbines had actually fallen in 2007 and called on the German government to do more to stimulate its growth. "The government's current provisions are insufficient to continue the successful course of recent years," he said. Tax breaks and other subsidies that renewable energy sources receive in Germany are due to be gradually phased out over the next few years, which "green" producers say will erode their already weak competitiveness compared to traditional energy sources such as coal and nuclear power.
"The next big phase of development in places like Germany and Holland will be offshore, where the resources are so much better." ...In Britain, where around 1.5 percent of electricity is produced by wind, opposition to 50 metre-tall turbines near homes has meant companies are also looking out to sea. "The land-grab has happened," said John-Marc Bunce, alternative energy analyst at broker Ambrian Partners. "In places like the UK there was never really enough land anyway and the government was crazy thinking anyone would want to have a wind turbine next to their house." ...But offshore wind is not without drawbacks, and over the longer term, it could be upstaged by other sources. "It costs a lot more and it's a lot more difficult. The development of offshore technology is in the same place that onshore wind industry was eight, 10 years ago," said Sawyer at the Global Wind Energy Council.
... while German power companies export 61 per cent of the wind generators they produce, the number of new wind turbines installed in Germany fell by more than 25 per cent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2006. "This is evidence that the fundamental conditions for wind power utilisation are no longer favourable in Germany," said Germany's Wind Energy Federation president Hermann Albers. ...These days news that a wind park is planned normally results in a local residents' campaign to raise concerns that the wind generators risk spoiling the countryside, driving away tourists and leading to sleepless nights for those living close to the turbines because of the infrasound - sound with a frequency too low to be detected by the human ear - caused by the whirling blades. Each year German courts hear 600-700 cases mounted by opponents of plans to build wind turbines in their local communities.
A shepherd and his flock of sheep walk on a pasture in front of power-generating wind turbines at a wind site near the village of Berge west of Berlin.
The acquisition will help E.ON, Germany's largest utility, increase its worldwide installed wind power capacity to 850 MW from around 640 MW, thus making the company one of the largest wind farm operators in the world. Also, the total capacity of the wind power projects being developed will grow to 4.6 GW from 2.6 GW.
E.ON Netz GmbH manages 7600 megawatts of wind generation in Germany, representing 41% of the installed capacity for wind in the country. According to this report, wind operated at 18% capacity on average, with the lowest generation of 8 megawatts occurring in May 2005.
E.ON (nyse: EON - news - people ) AG said it is planning to build a wind park off the coast of Yorkshire, where about 80 turbines will generate up to 300 MW of energy.
After the industry's recent boom years, wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents having been reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting. Gearboxes hiding inside the casings perched on top of the towering masts have short shelf lives, often crapping out before even five years is up. In some cases, fractures form along the rotors, or even in the foundation, after only limited operation. Short circuits or overheated propellers have been known to cause fires. All this despite manufacturers' promises that the turbines would last at least 20 years.