There are lots of claims on how successful Germany’s renewable energy program has been. Feed-in tariffs mandated by the government guaranteed profits for windpark investors and operators. You couldn’t lose. So it seemed at first.
Unfortunately outputs promised by wind turbine manufacturers and proponents have fallen short of expectations. Moreover, high maintenance costs have in many cases eliminated profits and resulted in losses for investors. As generous as the subsidies may be, profit from wind can be elusive.
So it comes as no surprise when we here how a group of 60 limited partners near Ettenheim southwest Germany have decided to dissolve the wind turbine operating company they had set up in December, 2000. Story in German at www.windwahn.de here. It lost money.
The 60 limited partners unanimously voted on Wednesday to shut down and liquidate the Windpark Ettenheim GmbH & Co. According to Windwahn, the wind turbine had been supplied by Nordex and “did not yield the expected performance“, so says managing director Andreas Markowsky.
It stood still for years, and finally it was taken down in the summer of 2013. In the meantime the concrete pad has also been removed. After the liquidation is completed, the area where the turbine stood will be re-naturalized under the supervision of forest authorities. …The wind turbine did not pay off.”
Windwahn writes that the turbine had been supplied by Nordex and came with a 5-year maintenance contract. But in the end, the turbine remained plagued by technical problems and the 60 partners all had to take a moderate loss on the investment: a bit more than 1000 euros per 2500 euro share.
Markowsky says that the turbine had serious technical problems from the start. For example when winds were strong during stormy weather, the turbine stood still instead of producing maximum output. The limited partners even had to take Nordex to court in bid to be awarded compensation in the amount of 1.8 million euros. Windwahn writes that the case dragged on for 5 years, during which the turbine remained idle and did not deliver any power. Finally, the court awarded the limited partners 1.4 million euros in compensation.
The limited partners had the chance to reduce their losses by taking advantage of the re-powering bonus offered by the German government. Under the scheme turbine operators are paid a bonus to trade up their old turbines for newer, more efficient ones. However, the bonus has been scrapped by the German government, effective August 1, and the offer ultimately was passed up.
The 60 limited partners have had enough of the wind energy business.