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German municipal cooperative shifts to solar with 800-MW renewables pipeline

Trianel GmbH is investing €13 million to boost its project pipeline of onshore wind and solar photovoltaic plants in Germany by 800 MW in capacity, the company said March 13.

The group will work with municipal utilities to develop 500 MW of solar photovoltaic, or PV, and 300 MW of wind projects. The allocated capital will be used only for project planning and development prior to final investment decisions, a spokesman told German newswire energate messenger.

The company's development plans mark a shift away from wind and toward solar, following several undersubscribed wind tenders in Germany. Trianel has so far connected 200 MW of onshore wind and 100 MW of ground-mounted solar projects in Germany but is planning on realizing a further 120 MWp of solar capacity this year, of which 80 MWp have already been awarded by the regulator.

"Decreasing construction costs and economic optimization potential throughout the entire development chain make PV open space projects economically attractive," Herbert Muders, head of onshore project development at Trianel, said in a statement.

Onshore wind additions in Germany declined 55% year over year in 2018 as the switch to auctions has limited growth and sluggish permitting has left 10 GW stuck in the approval process, according to the country's wind industry association, which forecasts less than 2 GW of new onshore capacity in 2019.

Trianel is a cooperative of 58 municipal utilities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands that have a direct marketing portfolio of 2.6 GW and collectively supply more than six million customers. In addition to developing projects through Germany's auction system for large-scale renewables, the company is also active in acquiring existing projects.

Together with 33 regional suppliers and municipal utilities, Trianel built Germany's first municipally owned offshore wind park, the 200-MW Borkum, in 2015. It is building a 200-MW extension of the project with EWE AG and several other partners and expects to complete construction this fall.