Industry of the Future – Wind Energy Industry is a Strong Employment Factor throughout Germany

In 2015 the offshore and onshore wind energy industries had a total of more the 143,000 direct and indirect jobs in Germany and generated more than 13 Billion Euros. The wind energy industry has thus become and indispensable employer from the southern State of Bavaria to the northern Schleswig-Holstein. This is the result of the analysis “Wind energy employment in Germany” which has been released by Bundesverband WindEnergie (BWE), VDMA Power Systems and Offshore-Wind-Industrie-Allianz (OWIA). This analysis conducted for the year 2015 was carried out by the Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftliche Strukturforschung (GWS). It complements the numbers which have been published by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy at the end of 2016. 

All Federal States benefit from the growth of wind energy

Even Federal States which need to catch up on renewables are strongly positioned in the field of suppliers of mechanical equipment and plant engineering, electrical engineering and IT infrastructure for the wind energy industry. While the final assembly mainly occurs in northern Germany, the supply industry is mainly present in North-Rhine Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. However, also many companies in eastern Germany are important suppliers for the wind industry, both offshore and onshore. While the service and maintenance operations for the offshore industry have settled along the German coastlines, the service operators of the onshore industry have spread out all over Germany. The wind energy industry has evidently created many jobs in states like Baden-Württemberg (9,490 employees), Bavaria (11,820 employees) or Sachsen-Anhalt (13,120 employees). Even the offshore wind industry has substantial employment effects in states such as North-Rhine Westphalia (2,420 employees), Bavaria (1,440 employees), Baden-Württemberg (1,150 employees) as well as in the traditional onshore state of Schleswig-Holstein (2,470 offshore employees).

122,400 employees in the onshore and 20,500 employees in the offshore wind industries

For 2015, wind power on land totalled at 122,400 employees. In the production and manufacturing sector, the number of employees decreased slightly by 9,100. At the same time, the employment in the area of ​​maintenance and operations rose by 1,000 employees, so that the gross reduction in employment was 8,100. This is only 6 percent of the total employment of wind energy on land. The main reason for this was the decline in the gross installation figures from 4,750 megawatts in 2014 to 3,730 megawatts in 2015. In the case of offshore wind energy, an increase of 1,800 was calculated (plus 10 percent) reaching a total of 20,500 employees. The growth in employment for offshore wind energy has its basis in the increase of jobs at maintenance and operation service sites (plus 2,500). The increased investment at land and the decline at sea in 2016 will again lead to corresponding fluctuations. However, the employment of the wind industry overall will remain very high in the coming years.

Employment focus on production, sustainable growth in the operation

The federal state-of-the-art figures show regional employment effects of the wind energy industry throughout Germany. The largest employment share with 115,300 jobs remains related to domestic investment and the export of wind turbines and their components. Industrial production therefore occupies a central position in the value chain, to a large extent in the traditional industrial centres. "The wind industry is not just a northern German phenomenon," says the Managing Director of VDMA Power Systems, Matthias Zelinger. "For example 18,500 jobs are attributable to North Rhine-Westphalia alone. That is why NRW is a strong partner state of the Husum Wind 2017 fair.” The share of the workforce in plant operation and maintenance is steadily increasing with the plant stock. "This creates sustainable local employment for the 20- to 30-year operational duration of wind power plants on land and at sea," added Hermann Albers, President of BWE. Servicing in particular creates long-term secure employment, which has a positive effect on local value creation throughout Germany. The share of jobs in operation and maintenance now makes up 19.3 percent of wind energy related jobs in Germany.

A strong domestic market and growing exports ensure employment in Germany

The three industry organizations underline the fact that the wind energy industry has been looking back on three very good years in terms of growth and is expecting at least another two very successful years ahead. "The strong industrial production and the growing stock of plants provide a good perspective for employment in Germany in the medium term," says Urs Wahl, OWIA's Public Affairs Director. The domestic market is also a showroom for quality products and services, adds Wahl. The growing exports surpass even the strong German market. Exports ensure stable employment, as fluctuations are balanced between different markets. The innovation-steeped German wind industry holds a world market share of 20 percent of global production, which is twice as high as Germany's share of global installations. Wind turbine manufacturers have achieved an export rate of more than 70 percent last year in a world market with an investment volume of over 50 Billion Euros. For the offshore wind industry it was also possible to successfully export technology for the foundations and grid infrastructure in addition to turbines. However, the three industry associations emphasize that the market perspective in the early 2020s is becoming particularly risky for the industry. In addition to the significantly reduced German market expansion in accordance with the EEG 2017, Europe-wide developments will become decisive in the future.

With reliable framework conditions and a wise external energy policy, wind energy will also become a global employment factor

"In 2016, the wind industry has strengthened its position within the circle of innovation-driven future industries in Germany, with more than 150,000 employees. By way of comparison, air and space travel comes to about 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. Now it is important to secure the created jobs and at the same time to take advantage of all opportunities to generate further growth", the leaders of the industry organizations agree: "Here policy-makers are also required to establish a stable energy and industrial policy framework in Germany as well as a wise external energy policy. The Energiewende is a global megatrend and wind energy central to the future global energy generation system. Jobs of the future arise in the wind energy industry. Wind energy is becoming a global employment factor."