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Wind Farms Adapt to Forest Conditions

16 Jun 2011

As developers look to expand the opportunities available onshore, new generations of turbines with higher towers and longer blades are opening up previously unobtainable sites to development. Here some of the key issues are explored, along with the challenges of an environment that can offer a host of attractive locations.

With more than 27 GW of installed wind capacity, Germany is Europe's leading wind producer and has plans to increase its capacity further still. Commercial forests in particular offer new potential locations — but what are the challenges faced by operators and investors?

Estimates by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) anticipate installed onshore wind capacity in Europe will increase from the current 83 GW to 190 GW by 2020. As well as producing the lion's share of renewable energy in Europe, onshore wind will continue to be the most cost-effective of all renewable energy sources.

In Germany, the development of land areas for potential new sites is increasingly focusing on inland southern Germany. Within the scope of option contracts, experts are currently assessing about 100 locations on land owned by the Bavarian state forest enterprise, Bayerische Staatsforsten, for their suitability as wind farm sites. Areas of monoculture forestry, especially, offer the opportunity for profitable and environmentally compatible wind farms.

Overall, the development of onshore wind power continues undiminished across Germany, offering major opportunities for planners, investors and operators. The German government aims to increase electricity from renewable sources to 25%-30% by 2020. The most recent amendment of Germany's Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) in 2009 further increased feed-in tariffs for wind.

Germany's Renewable Energy Sources Act is based on a clean energy cash-back scheme, guaranteeing wind-farm operators fixed feed-in tariffs for the generated power over a period of 20 years. The act places grid operators under the obligation of giving a purchasing preference to electricity produced from renewable sources. The EEG has proved to be one of the most successful legal acts of its kind at an international level and has been used by over 40 countries as a role model for developing their own tools promoting renewable energy.

Source: Renewable World Energy