Approvals declining: slack in wind power expansion


Status: 07/04/2022 07:32 a.m

The trend in permits for onshore wind turbines was down SWR-Research declined in the first half of the year. There are big differences between the states. Experts see the climate goals of the federal government in danger.

By Marcel Kolvenbach and Nick Schader, SWR

The expansion of wind power in Germany is still progressing slowly. This is based on a data analysis by SWR out. For this purpose, the number of permits for wind turbines in all federal states in the first six months of the year was evaluated. There are extreme differences between the federal states. While almost no new wind turbines were approved in Bavaria (4) and Saxony (2), North Rhine-Westphalia (79) is at the top. They are followed by the coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein (61) and Lower Saxony (57).

Across Germany, 311 new wind turbines were approved in the first half of the year. This is a slight step backwards compared to the first half of 2021 (321). Compared to “strong” wind power years, the regression is even considerable. Up to three times as many permits were issued in 2014 (895) or 2015 (699) as this year.

Energy transition at risk?

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection shared this SWR that between 1,500 and 2,000 wind turbines would have to be erected in Germany per year in order to comply with the German climate targets. It’s been less than 500 in each of the past three years – and this year the trend isn’t looking much better.

The “Wirtschaftsverband Windkraftwerke eV” (WVW) expressed its disappointment at the current situation: “The WVW fears that the expansion targets of the federal government will be permanently and significantly undershot. The number of permits and the number of wind turbines put into operation remain at a level that is far too low . Not only is there no sign of an acceleration effect after the promising statements in the coalition agreement, but even a step backwards.”

One thing is certain: the number of current permits for wind turbines determines the expansion trend over the next few years. Because the wind turbines that are now being applied for and approved are usually erected in the next two years. Conversely, this means that in the countries where there are currently very few permits, there will be less expansion in the coming years.

Bavaria and Saxony bring up the rear

To the SWR The Bavarian Ministry of the Environment announced that it was “of course not a satisfactory situation” that only four wind turbines had been approved so far. There are several reasons for this. There are “acceptance problems in the population” in Bavaria, and there is also “little use of municipal building management procedures to fall below the 10H distance rule”. This regulation states that in Bavaria there must be a distance between the wind turbine and residential buildings that corresponds to ten times the height of the wind turbine. This can only be reduced in exceptional cases.

Critics complain that the expansion of wind power in Bavaria has come to a virtual standstill as a result of this regulation. The Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz (BUND) hopes that Bavaria, among other things, can now be forced to expand through federal laws: “With the ‘Wind-on-Land-Gesetz’ it is finally stipulated that all federal states make their contribution to renewables “Have to expand. Individual distance rules for residential buildings, such as the 10H rule in Bavaria, cannot be maintained with this. Fortunately, because in this way citizens in all federal states can again benefit from the energy transition, for example through regional electricity tariffs.”

The situation is similar in Saxony. Only two wind turbines were approved here within the first six months. The Saxon climate protection ministry conceded: “We cannot be satisfied with the pace of expansion. We need significantly faster planning and approval processes. As the Ministry of Energy and Climate Protection, we have set up a task force on renewable energies that deals with the issues of space availability and speed of proceedings.”

“Countries must end the blockade”

The expert for regenerative energies, Volker Quaschning from the Berlin University of Applied Sciences, criticizes that countries like Bavaria and Saxony are blocking the expansion of wind power: “Just eight wind turbines were built in Bavaria last year, and wind turbines were even dismantled in Saxony. If “If communities there still want to build wind turbines, they meet with considerable resistance. If we don’t want to continue importing natural gas and oil from questionable countries, the blockade policy in all countries and communities must end.”

In other federal states, too, the expansion of wind power is currently falling short of expectations. In the windy coastal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, 16 permits were issued in the first half of the year – in Thuringia (11), Baden-Württemberg (10) and in Rhineland-Palatinate (7) there were even fewer.

Industry association fears negative effects

The Federal Ministry of Economics informed the SWR with the fact that it is important that throughout Germany “all regions make a corresponding contribution”. The federal government is now “for the first time setting binding area targets for the federal states. All states must make a contribution in order to provide a total of two percent of the federal area for wind energy on land.”

If the expansion is not accelerated, this could have negative effects on the economy, the industry association WVW warns: “Anyone who does not radically advance the expansion of renewable energies now endangers Germany as a business location and social peace.”

Building permits for wind turbines are declining

Nick Schader, SWR, 4.7.2022 07:39 a.m

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