German state clears important legal hurdle for wind turbine repowering, cancels minimum distance rule
The northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein has prepared legislation that allows it to replace old wind turbines with new and more efficient installations at the same location, marking an important step for enabling stable wind power expansion in the state, Matthias Popien writes in Hamburger Abendblatt. In order to use existing locations for the taller and more powerful turbines, the coastal state will use an opt-out from the economy ministry's (BMWi) minimum distance rule for turbines, which stipulates that these be built at least 1,000 metres away from any residential area with at least five houses and also affects repowering measures. "We will use the opt-out provided by the federal government and include it in state law. This will allow us to use different minimum distances," said Hans-Joachim Grote, the state's interior minister. The decision means that the state will be able to repower 2,100 of its 3,100 turbines and process applications for new installations with legal certainty, Popien writes.
Wind power has become Germany's primary electricity source this year ahead of lignite and is projected to also lead the country's energy mix in the future as it approaches 2050 greenhouse gas neutrality. However, the wind industry has seen the worst drop in expansion levels in almost 20 years in 2019 and it is facing severe disruptions as major companies have announced job cuts. The controversial minimum distance rule is part of the government's climate package and is aimed at appeasing wind power opponents but has been criticised for substantially shrinking the available land area.