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27 Jan 2020, 14:25
Benjamin Wehrmann

Energy heavyweight RWE calls for roundtable on solving Germany's wind power impasse

dpa / Tagesspiegel / Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung

German energy industry heavyweight RWE has called for a roundtable of stakeholders to make progress on ending the current slump of onshore wind power expansion in the country, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by the Tagesspiegel. RWE Renewable CEO Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath told dpa that getting onshore wind power expansion back on track was "the next step to break the deadlock". Dotzenrath proposed "a procedure similar to that of the coal and nuclear exit", in which all interest groups would have a voice and where "unpopular decisions" could be made in mutual agreement, such as "quicker and faster licensing" of new turbines. Dotzenrath also proposed to improve the financial participation of host communities in new wind power projects to increase the acceptance among residents. Companies should factor in the costs for funding public projects that clearly show how wind energy can be beneficial to a town. "Since renewables have already become competitive, I think this is doable," she said.
Environment minister Svenja Schulze, meanwhile, criticised economy minister Peter Altmaier for being much too slow in deciding how to overcome the wind power impasse and for holding on to a stricter version of the controversial planned nationwide minimum distance rule of 1,000 metres from the nearest residential area for new turbines. According to Altmaier it should already apply for settlements with more than four houses. "That would be madness," she argued in an interview with newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

RWE is Germany's largest coal power operator and is set to receive billions of euros in compensation for shutting down coal plants as part of the country's coal phase-out over the next years. Following a major asset swap with former competitor E.ON in 2019, RWE has turned into Germany's largest renewable power operator. Last October, the company announced plans to make its business carbon neutral by 2040 and greatly increase its investments in renewable energy sources. However, the company said earlier this month that investments would primarily be made outside of Germany for the time being due to the ongoing difficulties of onshore wind power. Expansion has fallen to the lowest level in 20 years and was overtaken by offshore wind for the first time in 2019, mainly due to licensing difficulties for new turbines.

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