23 Mar 2023, 13:38
Benjamin Wehrmann

German states have now fundamentally embraced wind power – minister

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s states have understood the importance of renewable energy for the future of local industry as they gear up for a fast expansion of onshore wind power, economy and climate action minister Robert Habeck has said. Following a “Wind Power Summit” with industry representatives, state politicians and other stakeholders, the Green Party minister said that “there’s been a fundamental change in the priority of wind power by the states’ authorities.” The 16 states and their subordinate administrations have generally begun to consider wind turbines in their territory to be an economic advantage. After the federal government initiated a range of legal reforms to facilitate the faster planning, licensing and buildout of new turbines, the onus is now on the states to greenlight the construction of about 9 gigawatts (GW) of turbine capacity which is currently being held up by lengthy licensing procedures. The speed by which this backlog can be cleared would greatly determine the overall success of the country’s ambitious wind power expansion targets, which requires quadrupling current annual construction rates, Habeck said. He pointed out that the current target of about five new turbines per day announced by chancellor Olaf Scholz was not unrealistic, as the country had achieved similar rates between 2015 and 2017, when the average new installation had a considerably lower capacity. “This means aiming high, but it can be done,” he argued. 

To comply with the economy minister’s plans, regional authorities will need more staffing, which should be pursued with “unorthodox” measures if necessary, said Ingbert Liebing, head of the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU). Ahead of the summit, the head of industry group German Wind Power Federation (BWE), Hermann Albers, had set the goal of approving at least 10 GW of capacity this year, during which the government plans to auction a record 12 GW of onshore wind capacity. The mere 0.6 GW licensed in the first three months of 2023 meant that the country is still way off target, Albers warned. Before the summit, the head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), Kerstin Andreae, stressed that the target of reserving two percent of the country’s land area for wind power should be already implemented by 2025 instead of 2032 as planned. “We need more space now and need to make sure that wind turbines are built and start operating quickly,” she said.

The wind summit followed on a similar initiative by Habeck for solar PV expansion held two weeks earlier. Germany aims to meet 80 percent of its electricity demand from renewable sources by 2030. To get there, 57 gigawatts (GW) of new onshore wind turbines, 22 GW offshore turbines and 150 GW of photovoltaic capacity must be built.

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