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22 Nov 2019, 12:02
Julian Wettengel

German states to deviate from planned minimum distance rule for wind turbines

Tagesspiegel Background / Clean Energy Wire

Some German states have said they will make use of the opt-out clause for the contentious nationwide minimum distance rule for wind turbines from the nearest settlement planned by the federal government, writes Nora Marie Zaremba in Tagesspiegel Background. Government representatives from Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt have already announced they will not keep to the 1,000-metre distance rule, and other states have said they will look into the issue. “I have doubts that climate targets can be achieved in such a way. And it is quite unacceptable that the economic potential of renewable energies in the state should be curbed in this way,” Schleswig-Holstein’s premier Daniel Günther told Tagesspiegel. Hesse’s state economy minister Tarek Al-Wazir said it was unnecessary for the federal government to regulate something that could best be judged locally. “The government should simply give up on this rule,” he said. North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria already have strict distance rules.
Data analysis by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) showed that a general national 1,000-metre minimum distance rule “would basically bring the expansion of wind power to a standstill”. The rule “thus endangers the energy transition,” write the authors of the discussion paper. At 800 metres, it would be conceivable to reach the government’s goal of expanding wind power to 86 gigawatts by 2030, they write. An interactive map accompanying the publication shows the dramatic effects of different minimum distances on how much onshore wind power can be installed in each German state. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has also said that the planned distance rules could bring wind power expansion to a halt.

After industry and environmental groups intensely criticised the government's plans for new distance rules, economy minister Peter Altmaier said there was no final decision yet on what the rules would mean in practice. The minister said that as he needed to get everyone on board regarding the energy transition, concessions to various stakeholders were likely.

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