21 Mar 2023, 13:36
Carolina Kyllmann

Better working conditions and faster licensing key to Germany's wind power buildout – report

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s wind energy sector requires faster approval procedures and better working conditions to attract the skilled workers needed reach expansion targets, a report commissioned by the Hans Böckler foundation and labour union IG Metall found. A decisive factor for wind energy expansion are highly qualified employees in the production, maintenance and operation of wind turbines, the authors say and recommended the introduction of a “labour market strategy to achieve the energy transition goals.” Employees in the offshore wind sector, for example, have to deal with complex machinery, often against icy winds and at heights of more than a hundred meters above sea level. The researchers therefore recommend a critical evaluation of the offshore working time regulation, giving greater say to employees.

Analysing the main developments in the sector, the report found that the industry lost over 40,000 jobs between 2017 and 2019. “Expansion figures have fallen sharply both on land and at sea in recent years,” the authors wrote. In addition to better working conditions, government support and further research funding (for floating wind terminals or green hydrogen production plants) could help in the development of new technologies, according to the report. The eco-balance of the wind industry itself could also be improved, particularly in the recycling of the huge rotor blades.

With its “Easter” and “Summer” packages last year, Germany's government started to take action to accelerate planning procedures and land designation for wind energy. But the political framework conditions, funding regulations and allocation criteria still need to be improved, the researchers said. The economy ministry (BMWK) will hold the first of two wind energy summits planned for this year on 22 March, where it plans to present key points on how to accelerate expansion. In a joint appeal ahead of the event, eight industry groups – including utility association BDEW, renewables association BEE and wind energy association BWE – called for all stakeholders to work together “to remove the sufficiently well-known obstacles and finally unleash the necessary expansion of wind energy.” The buildout has lagged in recent years due to slow licensing procedures, insufficient land for construction and investor uncertainty.

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