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HUSUM WIND 2019 Hits Half Time

After two of four show days of German HUSUM Wind it is time to draw a first conclusion: Due to German politics the mood is bad, but there's no reason for despair. The wind industry is not stagnating at all, but quite to the contrary still full of innovative power even after more than 30 years.

Also present in Husum: Greta Thunberg, pioneer of #FridaysforFuture (Image: K. Radtke)Also present in Husum: Greta Thunberg, pioneer of #FridaysforFuture (Image: K. Radtke)

Already the opening event on Tuesday determined the tonality of this year's HUSUM Wind: political. The German wind industry is in a crisis - possibly the biggest in its history. But fortunately there's no sign of resignation - the industry is willing to fight for the home market.

The collapse of the German solar industry a few years ago showed what happens when misguided politics destroy an entire industry. This negative example in their faces the people in German wind industry now get loud. Instead of polite phrases, company representatives aren't mincing their words any more and openly criticize the current course of the German government. Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier thus made a wise decision in not visiting Husum at all, because he would have had to put up with unpleasant questions.

Daniel Günther, Prime Minister of Germany's northernmost state Schleswig-Holstein, came instead to open the fair and brought his entire cabinet with him. He made it very clear that he completely disagrees with his fellow party member Altmaier regarding the procedure for the energy transition. No wonder, since wind energy traditionally plays a major role in the far north of the country. The cradle of German wind energy is located near Husum - with the fair celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The list of current problems is long. The first 30,000 jobs in German wind industry are lost so far. And even though it didn't come as a surprise, the current insolvency of German turbine manufacturer Senvion has left its mark. CEO Hans-Dieter Kettwig of German market leader ENERCON openly threatened to relocate their production facilities abroad - but not without first sending his workers out on the street to demonstrate. A serious threat in times of #FridaysforFuture.

Dark clouds over Husum (Image: K. Radtke)

But at the show the industry also demonstrates an impressive available potential. Especially new technologies around green hydrogen production and its use are present everywhere at the fair. The northern German federal states are going hand in hand with the industry and try to exert their influence in federal politics. A difficult task, as Jan Philipp Albrecht, Environment Minister in Schleswig-Holstein, admitted: "We are limited by decisions of the federal government and threaten to lose the connection to the world market in some industries".

Above all, hopes are pinned on sector coupling. Considerable efforts are still needed to finally bring green energy into the transport and heating sectors. But anyway, there's no shortage of ideas.

Another major issue in the coming years is the continued operation of older wind farms no longer eligible for the German EEG funding. Is it worthwhile? Or is it possible to repower the wind farm? A difficult issue given the current duration of permits. No wonder, then, that more and more marketers are opting for PPAs with large companies. The principle is well known from the U.S. and is likely to become more popular in Germany as well enabling operators to continue selling their electricity.

Striking this year at the Husum show is that major new presentations, especially by turbine manufacturers, aren't shown. Instead, the companies already communicated their new platforms and systems via press releases during the course of the year, while at the show only upgrades are shown. This might be the result of a grown industry where manufacturers and customers have been knowing each other well enough to no longer have to rely on a show to sell and buy products.

Whether this will still be the case in the next 30 years or not will, however, be seen to in the coming weeks in Berlin. If not it could be that the HUSUM Wind 2019 has already been the first swansong on the German wind industry.

Katrin Radtke
HUSUM Wind 2019, Germany, trade fair, event, energy transition, wind industry, Schleswig-Holstein, mood, FridaysforFuture

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