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12 Nov 2019, 12:40
Freja Eriksen

Economy and environment ministries pass the blame for slump in German wind power expansion

Clean Energy Wire / Zeit Online / taz

The German economy ministry (BMWi) has pointed to the federal ministry for the environment (BMU) as being responsible for blocking the expansion of wind energy, writes Zeit Online. Economy minister Peter Altmaier's spokesperson told the news agency dpa that "above all, we need more clarity on the species and nature conservation law, which the ministry for the environment is responsible for. Here, blockades are damaging the energy transition and its acceptance." The economy ministry said it had made concrete proposals to the BMU on how to increase legal clarity on the issue.
Although Altmaier presented a plan to strengthen the onshore wind industry in September, his ministry has faced criticism as onshore wind power expansion has come to a near standstill in 2019 and wind turbine maker Enercon this week announced it would cut up to 3,000 jobs. The government's climate action package stipulates a new minimum distance for onshore wind turbines of 1,000 metres from residential areas - a move that market players have warned could put the wind power industry in danger.
In a draft coal exit law, the government now aims to define the term “residential area,” proposing that a group of more than five connected buildings is to be regarded as such. Houses planned for construction should also be considered residential areas. Additionally, old wind turbines needing replacement must adhere to the same minimum distance rules. Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary at the environment ministry, told taz that negotiations on the draft were only just beginning and that the BMU would "not take part in anything that endangers the expansion targets."

Wind is Germany’s most important source of renewable power and vital to its energy transition, but thousands of planned onshore wind projects are currently on hold due to regulatory conflicts and protest groups are challenging new installations in court.

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