Vestas challenging Germany's market leader

Enercon sat upon more than half of the shrinking market in 2018, but results from German tenders indicate that Danish firm Vestas is emerging at a stable level. Factoring out projects developed by Enercon, Vestas is actually the country's largest player.
Photo: Frank Boutrup Schmidt/Vestas
Photo: Frank Boutrup Schmidt/Vestas

2018 was a poor year for German onshore wind.  There were already expectations of a significant decline after the shift to a tender model – which originally offered long deadlines and saw several wins for citizen projects, which take much longer to complete – but even these projections were trumped with a surprisingly huge fall in wind expansion. Last year saw only half the capacity installed in 2017.

This also meant declines for turbine manufacturers' installations, however, the year appears to have been worse for some. Although Enercon saw its largest decline with 831 fewer MW installed than the year prior, it was still a relatively lucrative year for the German market leader. Adding 1,262 MW, the manufacturer's market share grew from 38 to 53 percent.

This is according to figures calculated by EnergyWatch based on the German Federal Network Agency's (Bundesnetzagentur) data on commissioned turbines.

Meanwhile, Vestas managed to maintain its 24 percent market share despite a 759 MW decline, whereas all other significant manufacturers declined on both capacity and market share. Most notably GE, which installed less than 20 MW in 2018 after installing 460 MW in 2017, leaving it with a 0.8 percent market share. 

However, the US company can look forward to improvement. German wind association Fachagentur Windenergie has examined the winning projects from the seven tender rounds seen in 2017 and 2018 as well as those turbines which have been awarded permits. According to its analysis, GE is poised to win back an 8 percent share.

The figures also reveal Vestas to be the big winner.  The Danish turbine manufacturer is responsible for 243 of the 776 turbines with permits, and with an 839 MW capacity of 2,515 MW awarded, its market share is set to grow to 33.4 percent – just behind Enercon, which has a 36.4 percent share.

The turbine manufacturer has also declared itself satisfied with the efforts under the new German system.

"We are very proud of the success enjoyed by our customers in the first seven tender rounds and are looking forward to strengthening our partnerships during this transition period in the market," says Vestas head of sales in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Alex Robertson, who also expresses faith in the market overall.

"The German market has been through a period with fewer installations than before, but with fixed national renewables targets, further supply volumes and a new ambition to phase out coal, we expect that the market will begin to grow again. Germany will remain the largest market in Europe, and with wind remaining one of the most price competitive power sources, we believe that Germany will bounce back from the latest rate level."

Not counting Enercon's own projects, Vestas is largest

Observers predict that 2019 will also be a relatively sluggish year for onshore wind, before the market returns to approximately 4 GW annually over the next decade. This is also the period when the much-discussed citizen projects awarded in 2017 will be installed. That is, if they are granted permits, which many have not yet received, as this type of project escaped the permit requirement in the first three tenders.

This also means that figures for projected market share should be taken with a grain of salt. Only half of the allocated 5,162 MW have succeeded in receiving permits and have nominated turbine suppliers.

Enercon's leading market share is also worth unpacking. The privately-owned manufacturer also delivers turbines to its own wind farms in Germany – where it saw significant success in last year's tender.

The manufacturer was among the winners across the four 2018 tenders and as a result will install its own wind farms totalling 100 MW with its own turbines. Factoring out these projects, Vestas actually trumps the German competitor with a 34.7 percent market share against Enercon's 33.9 percent.

However, this could already change in a few weeks. The first onshore wind tender in Germany for 2019 took place last Friday with 700 MW up for grabs, and the winners are expected to be announced in a few weeks.

English Edit: Lena Rutkowski

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