At BR Bavarian public broadcasting here, Judith Zacher writes how the Zöschingen wind park has lost the air under its wings and has disappointed investors. At the time it opened in 2013, it was Bavaria’s largest citizens-operated wind park. But the BR writes that “there’s not enough wind and the financial expectations can hardly be fulfilled.”
Back at the beginning of the decade when the park was under planning, there was considerable opposition to its construction. But the town’s mayor and the wind lobby prevailed and pushed the project through in 2011, in the wake of the German Fukushima hysteria. Moreover, studies and wind measurements showed there was enough wind to produce enough clean energy to make the project worthwhile. So construction was approved and the park with its 8 large turbines went into operation in the spring of 2013.
Only 1% return on investment
The Zöschingen project is called a citizens’ wind park because a number of citizens invested in the project with the hopes of seeing a strong return. However, Zacher writes at BR that those expectations have failed to materialize. Instead of the expected 9% return, the BR reports that investors received only 4.5% in the first year, and only a measly 1 percent over the following two years.
This seems to have become a typical story for many German wind park projects: big promises turning out to be huge disappointments. And every time the winners are few and always the same: the project planners and the land owner who makes easy money with leasing fees.
Wind has been much weaker than expected
So why isn’t the Zöschingen wind project delivering?
BR reports that although there have been productive months, overall wind energy output is still “20 percent below the expectations“. Before the project began, wind measurements had been taken over months, and three expert technical assessments showed the project would yield good returns. However since the wind park was built, the winds have not blown like they were expected to do. These things happen.
The BR report writes that the problem may have something to do with the turbines being located in a forest – too near to tree tops. Plant builder Georg Honold says the turbines should have been taller.
What’s left is a poor investment that has turned the landscape into an eyesore that everyone in the area will have to wake up and look at every day — for probably another 20 years.