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German policy plans pull onshore wind two ways at once

Energy ministry presents vague to-do list to strengthen onshore wind – but new climate legislation draft abandons higher targets

Germany’s economics and energy minister presented a 'to-do list' to help government departments fix its lacklustre onshore wind expansion – just as Berlin appeared to abandon higher targets for wind on land altogether in a new draft of climate legislation.

The ‘working plan for the strengthening of wind energy on land’ follows up on an early September ‘wind summit’ between economics and energy minister Peter Altmaier and representatives from the wind industry, nature conservationists groups as well as anti-wind groups.

The cross-government to-do list aims at safeguarding Germany’s 2030 target to reach a 65% renewables share in its electricity mix, by creating more acceptance for wind energy in the population and at the same time stepping up legal security for wind projects that currently often are held up by lawsuits for years.

The paper includes vague directives for various ministries and state governments to come up with measures such as a shortened process for legal appeals, faster sound emission permits, a country-wide monitoring of protected species to avoid a myriad of different species protection rules, and a regional steering of renewable energy additions in order to avoid grid bottlenecks.

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But it also contains the demand to create a demand to create a country-wide introduction of a minimum distance between new wind farms and settlements that to the dismay of the wind industry was part of the corners stones for a ‘climate package’ recently presented by the government.

The government in a new draft of the 2030 climate protection programme has also scrapped an earlier proposal to increase the targeted annual onshore wind expansion steered by tenders to 3.9GW. And it seems to have lowered an onshore wind target for 2030 to 67-71GW, from 80GW envisaged in an earlier draft, the German wind energy federation BWE said.

The latter would result in annual onshore wind additions of only 1.4 to 1.8GW, the BWE calculates.

“The improvements for the framework conditions for wind energy on land announced at the wind summit still fail to appear. Instead, the already insufficient results of the climate package are being worsened even more,” BWE president Hermann Albers said.

The low target would not be enough to secure the competitiveness of Germany’s wind industry, he added.

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