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21 Aug 2023, 13:33
Benjamin Wehrmann

Most populous German state set to abolish minimum distance rule for wind turbines

Der Spiegel

The government of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, looks set to abolish a controversial minimum distance rule for wind turbines, news magazine Der Spiegel reported. Currently, turbines must be a minimum distance of 1,000 metres from the nearest residential building. The government coalition in the western industrial state, composed of the conservative CDU and the Green Party, is expected to eliminate the minimum distance rule, which critics regard as one of the main reasons for the country’s slow onshore wind power development in recent years. The state’s coalition plans to erect at least 1,000 new turbines in North Rhine-Westphalia during its current term, while chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany as a whole should aim to build up to five new turbines every day in the next few years. In their draft law, the state’s coalition parties argued that speeding up renewables expansion will help reduce power prices and increase supply security. They cautioned, however, that this would only work “if acceptance by people across the country is secured and increased further.”

Germany’s federal government has tasked all states with designating a given share of their territory for onshore wind power development by 2032. By 2025, North Rhine-Westphalia plans to designate 1.8 percent of its territory for wind power. Recent turbine licensing figures for the state, as well as for the rest of Germany, suggest that the pace of expansion has already started to pick up after several years of limited capacity additions.

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