Berlin. The onshore and offshore wind industries directly and indirectly supported a total of 143,000 jobs in 2015, generating revenues of about EUR 13 billion. The wind industry has become a vital employer from Schleswig-Holstein to Bavaria. This is the finding of an analysis, “Beschäftigung in Deutschland durch Windenergie” [Employment in Germany’s Wind Industry], presented by the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), VDMA Power Systems and the Offshore Wind Industry Alliance (OWIA). The analysis was carried out by the Institute of Economic Structures Research (GWS) for 2015. It supplements the total figures published at the end of 2016 by Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
All German states benefit from growth in the wind industry
Even those states which clearly need to catch up with expanding their own regional capacity in renewables are well positioned with suppliers in mechanical and plant engineering, electrical engineering and the IT industry. Although final assembly in turbine manufacturing is generally located in Germany’s north, suppliers are located in all states, especially North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Many businesses in eastern Germany are also important suppliers for the wind industry. While companies involved in services and operations for offshore wind farms have generally set up their businesses along the coast, onshore operators and service firms are distributed across the country. The wind industry employs many in the states of Baden-Württemberg (9,490 employees), Bavaria (11,820) and Saxony-Anhalt (13,120). Even the offshore wind industry has a sizeable effect on employment in states as far from the coast as North Rhine-Westphalia (2,420 employees), Bavaria (1,440) and Baden-Württemberg (1,150), as well as in Schleswig-Holstein (2,470), the northernmost state, which has traditionally boasted onshore wind facilities.
122,400 employees in the onshore wind industry and 20,500 in the offshore wind industry
The wind industry on land supported a total of 122,400 jobs in 2015. The number of people employed in production dropped slightly by 9,100. At the same time, employment in maintenance and operations increased by 1,000 jobs, so that the decline calculated in gross employment was 8,100. This represents only 6 percent of total employment in the wind industry on land. This can be attributed mainly to the decline in gross turbine installation figures from 4,750 megawatts of capacity in 2014 to 3,730 megawatts in 2015. In the case of offshore wind, employment increased by 1,800 jobs to a total of 20,500, reflecting a 10 percent growth rate. The growth in employment in the offshore wind industry was based on the creation of 2,500 new jobs in maintenance and operations. Increasing investment on land and the decline in offshore investment in 2016 will accordingly be reflected in fluctuations in employment again. But employment in the wind industry will remain overall very high in coming years.
Employment is highest in manufacturing, with sustainable growth in operations
The precise figures for individual states show the regional employment effects of the wind industry throughout Germany. The major share of employment (115,300 jobs) is still related to domestic investments and the export of wind turbines and their components. Industrial production therefore still holds a central place in the value chain and is located to a large extent in traditional centres of industry. “The wind industry is not a solely north German phenomenon”, says Matthias Zelinger, managing director of VDMA Power Systems. “For example, 18,500 jobs are in North Rhine-Westphalia alone. That’s why the state is a strong partner at the 2017 Husum Wind trade fair.” As the number of turbines installed offshore goes up, the share of employment in operations and maintenance steadily increases. “This is how sustainable local jobs are emerging for the twenty to thirty years of operation of wind turbines on land and at sea,” says Hermann Albers, president of the German Wind Energy Association. Service in particular creates secure long-term employment, which has a positive effect on local value creation. The national average share of jobs in operations and maintenance now lies at 19.3 percent.
A strong domestic market and growing exports ensure employment in Germany
The three industry associations accentuated that the wind industry can look back at three very good years and has at least another two good years ahead of it in terms of the new installation of turbines on land and at sea. “Strong industrial production and the growing number of turbines installed provide an optimistic view of employment in Germany in the medium term as well”, says Urs Wahl, manager of public affairs for the Offshore Wind Industry Alliance, adding that the domestic market showcases quality products and services. Growing exports are even surpassing the strong German market. The export business also secures stable employment because it balances fluctuations between different markets. Germany’s highly innovative wind industry holds a global market share of 20 percent of worldwide production, a figure twice as high as Germany’s share of global installations. Wind turbine manufacturers last year achieved an export rate of over 70 percent in a global market with an investment volume of more than EUR 50 billion. The offshore wind industry has successfully exported technology for foundation construction and grid infrastructure, as well as turbines. However, the three associations point out that a view of the market in the early 2020s shows some risk. In compliance with the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act, there will be significant reductions in the German market by then – making future developments in wind energy across all of Europe more decisive.
With reliable framework conditions and intelligent foreign policy on energy, the wind industry could also ensure employment around the world
The leaders of the industry associations agree: “The wind industry in 2016 consolidated its position amongst Germany’s innovation-driven industries of the future, supporting more than 150,000 jobs. For comparison, the aerospace industry directly and indirectly employs about 100,000 people in the country. Now it’s important to safeguard newly created jobs and at the same time continue to exploit all opportunities for growth. Politicians are now called upon to set up reliable framework conditions and industrial policy in Germany as well as to design intelligent energy policies that affect other countries. The energy transition is a global megatrend and wind energy is at the core of the world’s future energy systems. Jobs of the future will arise in the wind industry, making it an important employer around the globe.”
Download: GWS analysis (only available in German)
About the Institute of Economic Structures Research analysis of employment in Germany’s wind industryGermany‘s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) last autumn published an assessment of gross employment in renewable energy industries in Germany. Calculations are carried out by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), partners within a consortium led by the Institute of Economic Structures Research (GWS), which is commissioned by the BMWi to analyse the economic effects of the energy transition. The starting point for calculations is the investment in renewable energy for the year in question. By means of an economic input-output analysis, the number of directly and indirectly employed is derived from intermediate consumption and production. Structural information on intermediate consumption was compiled in 2012 in a business survey and is updated annually. Overall, this computational approach can mean that fluctuations in the German market result in fluctuations in the number of employed which are, in reality, alleviated. The figures are not counted values but rather a well-founded estimate. The GWS was commissioned to carry out the analysis in terms of individual German states and prepare all figures. The GWS relies on the BMWi’s official employment to ensure continuity. Publication of Germany’s 2016 employment figures in the wind industry is expected in autumn.