German grid agency expects too little interest in next wind power auction, cuts capacity
Clean Energy Wire / Spiegel
Germany’s onshore wind power expansion has been dealt another blow as the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) announced plans to cut the tendered capacity for the next auction in May 2021. After the last tender in February was undersubscribed, the grid agency says it expects that the same would be the case in the upcoming auction round. The faltering interest in the tenders has been attributed, among other factors, to a lack of standardisation in species protection rules that are often prohibiting or delaying the permits for new wind farms. “The nationwide patchwork of regulations unsettles authorities, project developers and courts and leads to an overall sluggish expansion,” a group of energy industry associations said in a joint press release.
Their case has been taken up by Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in the environment ministry who told news magazine Der Spiegel: “If the negotiations on species protection standards are not concluded soon, we will have to regulate this on a federal level via an amendment to the Federal Nature Conservation Act.” Both the federal environment and energy ministries have been pushing for unified rules on species protection standards in wind turbine planning but so far the 16 state environment ministers (Umweltministerkonferenz – UMK) have not been able to agree. At their last meeting in December 2020 they decided on a common standard but allowed the different states do deviate from it. The energy industry says that only a “legally secure, clear and predictable application of species protection law” could enable a faster expansion of wind energy. The next meeting of the UMK and the federal environment ministry is scheduled for Wednesday (21 April).
The lack of approved projects has led to a decrease in the annual installed wind power capacity in Germany from more than 5,000 to only 1,400 megawatts (MW) since 2017. In 2020, a total of 3,860 MW of onshore wind was put out to tender, but only 2,672 MW were awarded. The current share of renewable power in Germany’s electricity consumption stands at around 45 percent. The government target for 2030 is 65 percent, with many stakeholders arguing that a growing amount of e-cars and electric heatings will require much more than that, especially in the light of more ambitious EU climate targets.