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Although the weather conditions were not really favorable to the production of wind power, we were able to generate 559 GWh of electricity in 2013 – more than ever before in company history.
This success is based on the stable operation of power plants at cutting-edge standards, an advantageous distribution of wind power plants across various regions and countries, and the startup of new and more efficient turbines.
An exciting year with record and challenges
The year 2013 began with weather conditions that were everything but ideal: even though the first two weeks were rather stormy, the months of January and February showed significantly lower wind speeds than previously expected. There were hardly any serious bad weather fronts coming from the Atlantic Ocean and continuously low temperatures prevailed. March offered the highest production so far and, just as in April, allowed us to generate results slightly above target. Nevertheless, May and June exceeded all wind expectations and ensured an overall midyear result that reached the production target despite unsteady production. Once again, however, our power production fell fall behind due to unusually long periods of good summer weather. Despite results slightly above target in September and October, they could not make up for the previous summer deficit. This trend continued in November with power production levels barely above expectations. In December, strong weather systems coming from the west and a cyclone helped to register a highly successful production month that ranked third in company history. Ultimately, our full-year target could not be reached.
The diversification of locations and technologies ensures a stable production
Both the international distribution of locations and the operation of different renewable power plant types are essential risk management tools of WEB Windenergie AG to secure stable results.
In 2013, German wind power plant operators were confronted with one of the weakest wind production years since their foundation. Although the lack of west wind over long periods of time resulted in lower results for several WEB locations as well, other wind parks enjoyed great wind conditions from east and south. Therefore, an overall reliable production was possible. WEB was able to achieve a positive total production in Austria with +2.4% and in Italy +0.3% above expectations. In contrast, WEB power plants in the Czech Republic and in France could not reach their target levels by -0.7% and -2.5% respectively. The poorest results were registered in Germany with -7.3% below target.
The results of different technologies used at power plants are highly interesting as well. The hydroelectric power plants Imst and Eberbach, for example, were able to surpass their total production target by 8.8% due to sufficient water inflow and stable power plant operations. The photovoltaics division did not only benefit from an extremely sunny summer but also from the successful startup of new Austrian power plants, resulting in a total power production of +2.3% above target. In the course of the year, the wind volume below average caused WEB wind power plants to miss their target levels by - 1.5%.
Record availability and new power plants enable production increase
Our production could only reach record levels due to high-quality power plant operation. WEB wind power plants were virtually always ready for operation with a total availability of 97.8%. In consequence, WEB achieved its highest plant availability in company history and successfully managed countless challenges. Particularly in May, for example, grid operators caused numerous shutdowns due to grid expansion work. Moreover, sleet and freezing rain resulted in safety shutdowns and busy plant maintenance activities at various Austrian wind parks both in the first quarter of the year and the pre-Christmas season. Aside from low-wind periods, we also experienced serious thunderstorms and hurricane weather conditions in 2013. Nevertheless, our engineers always reacted quickly and ensured the optimal operation of our wind power plants. In Germany, for example, three generators had to be replaced after a storm in November. In the course of the year, seven generators and four drives were successfully replaced. Such numbers prove that we were able to master any technical challenge we were confronted with.
In 2013, the WEB power plant park was significantly expanded and its technology further developed. In September, for example, the first three megawatt plants were successfully put into operation at wind park Deutsch-Wagram. Similarly, the photovoltaics division has grown considerably. Photovoltaics rooftop installations were connected to the power grid at as many as three locations: Perbersdorf, Heidenreichstein and Weikendorf. Finally just before Christmas, WEB added one of its most efficient wind parks located at Matzen-Klein Harras. We will continue our expansion activities next year as well: four more three megawatt plants are currently built at wind park Neuhof III and the first three turbines are set up in Canada. Therefore, we expect another production increase in W.E.B Green Energy for 2014.