Germany To Dedicate 2% Of Its Land To Wind Power Development

Germany, despite its claim to be a leader in renewable energy, is not on track to reach its 2030 climate and energy goals. This week, the country’s new Green Minister for the Economy and Climate, Robert Habeck, unveiled a bold new plan for expanding onshore and offshore wind power. If successful, the plan will add up to 10 gigawatts of new onshore wind capacity each year for the rest of the decade. To put this in perspective, Europe as a whole installed 11.8 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind in 2020.

To advance the plan, Germany intends to increase the number of onshore wind auctions and streamline onshore wind permit procedures. In total, 2% of Germany’s land area will be set aside for wind energy production. In addition to onshore winds, the German government also plans to increase its offshore wind target to 30 GW by 2030.

During a press conference, Habeck made it clear that wind energy, especially onshore wind, will continue to be the main source of electricity in Germany and is the key to further emission reductions, according to WindEurope. “Energiewende roars again. Germany wants a huge expansion of onshore wind. And the government fully understands that it requires faster approval of new wind farms – and they intend to deliver this ASAP with a dedicated new ‘Onshore Wind Law’. Today’s announcements mark the German leadership’s comeback in the field of renewable energy – fantastic! ”says WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson.

Habeck intends to remove restrictions on the development of onshore wind turbines caused by concerns about radar installations for civil and military aviation. He estimates the government’s plan could release up to 4 to 5 GW of new wind projects currently blocked by aviation radar and a further 4 GW currently blocked by the military.

Support for renewable energy will be paid from the state budget, reducing the burden on low-income households and small businesses. The package is also said to define energy conversion as a ‘matter of public interest’ in order to prioritize wind energy projects over other forms of land use – an important prerequisite for streamlining the permit process and finding new locations for wind energy projects.

The government’s proposal will ensure that the development of onshore wind does not take place at the expense of environmental and species protection. Currently, legal complaints about wind energy permits, often filed on the basis of Germany’s nature conservation law, are a major stumbling block for new projects. Habeck says there is a need for a rebalancing of competing interests, one that reduces the amount of delays created by endless lawsuits. This new plan will require shorter and less complex permits for new wind farms.

The German Wind Energy Association has consistently stated that only 2% of German territory would be sufficient to build enough onshore wind to meet Germany’s renewable energy targets. During the press conference, Habeck stressed that restrictive distance rules between wind turbines and residential buildings would be toned down to achieve the new 2% target. Habeck’s plans received positive feedback from many groups in Germany. The German Renewable Energy Association even issued a statement calling it the start of a “new era of German climate policy.”

Now the hard work of getting the proposed new law passed begins. Germany has painted itself into a corner by shutting down many of its nuclear power plants early before there were enough renewable energy resources to compensate. It must move bravely and quickly to remedy that situation. The new wind turbine law on land will far from satisfy this need.

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