28 Jan 2022, 13:43
Benjamin Wehrmann

Plans for offshore wind power boom threaten ecosystems in North Sea – German NGO

Clean Energy Wire

The planning for offshore wind power projects in German waters is creating conflicts with the protection of vulnerable maritime ecosystems in  the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, NGO NABU has said in reaction to the latest spatial planning update by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). The NGO warns that the ambitious offshore wind power expansion plans could increase the strain on whales, birds and other species living in the already heavily industrialised maritime region. The BSH’s plan greenlights the construction of up to 58 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, considerably more than the roughly 7.5 GW currently provided by about 1,500 turbines. “The question just how many wind turbines the North and Baltic Seas can take is controversial to many people,” NABU said, arguing the BSH is “ignoring well-known environmental conflicts” as well as agreements made with respect to spatial offshore planning. NABU head Jörg-Andreas Krüger said the organisation supports offshore wind power in general, but lamented “the BSH just squeezes more wind power into the already burdened North Sea” and brushes aside scientific findings on species conservation by erasing minimum distance requirements for protected areas, which create space for 14 GW of additional capacity. “Climate and environmental action must not be made competitors,” he said, adding the government has a duty to reconcile the two interests.
The BSH said its planning serves as “a cornerstone for the ambitious offshore wind power expansion plan’s implementation.” Planning security would be needed for companies to make decisions on the fast buildout of the offshore wind sector. Environmental protection would be a prerequisite for any planning going forward, the BSH added.

Thanks to its reliable output, offshore wind power is seen as an important part of Germany's move towards an economy based on 100 percent renewable energy. The new government has raised the 2030 expansion target to 30 GW, more than three times the current capacity.

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