German economy ministry presents onshore wind power rescue plan
Clean Energy Wire / Süddeutsche Zeitung
Germany's economy ministry has presented a plan for strengthening the expansion of onshore wind power in Germany. Following a national crisis meeting with the country's wind power industry and other stakeholders at the beginning of September, economy minister Peter Altmaier promised a slew of regulatory changes to remove legal hurdles for wind power expansion and to increase acceptance among residents that have to live near the large turbines. The ministry's plan now includes changes to Germany's environmental law to achieve greater clarity for cases in which turbine projects are blocked for reasons of species' conservation, a better synchronisation of grid expansion measures, and new wind power projects and improved zoning plans for Germany's federal states to ensure that enough land is available for new turbines. "The diversity of our measures and the involved actors show that strengthening wind power is a joint task for the federal government and the federal states," the ministry writes, adding that other ministries and the state governments will share responsibility for implementing the plan's measures.
The head of energy company RWE, Rolf Martin Schmitz, said the government would have to "curtail the rights of citizens more" to ensure that wind power expansion in Germany gets back in line with the country's emissions reduction and renewables expansion targets. "Society has to decide what it wants," Schmitz told Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview.
Onshore wind power expansion in Germany has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years in the first half of 2019, casting doubts over the government's plans to reach a share of 65 percent renewables in power consumption by 2030. The main reasons for lagging expansion are licensing problems and lawsuits against new turbines by local residents and other interest groups.