02 Dec 2021, 13:42
Benjamin Wehrmann

Quick removal of renewables expansion barriers must be priority for next German govt – association

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s prospective new government must imminently address the crucial energy transition challenge of reducing regulatory hurdles to renewables expansion, Ingbert Liebing, head of municipal utility association VKU has said. Speaking at a panel of German energy sector associations hosted by trade magazine Energate, Liebing said that within the first 100 days in office, the expected next government under Social Democrat (SPD) Olaf Scholz needs to make sure that barriers to the construction of new wind turbines and solar panels across the country are reduced. He said that the next government’s aim of achieving a share of 80 percent renewables by 2030 is “extremely ambitious,” not least due to latest estimates giving a much higher total power consumption at the end of the decade. “I don’t want to say it’s impossible – but only if it is backed by the right measures,” he argued. Major regulatory hurdles to renewables construction, particularly for onshore wind turbines, include spatial planning procedures, licensing and species conservation in protected areas. “These issues have been debated for years now and I can only encourage the coalition to tick them off quickly,” the VKU head said, pointing out that the rigorous approach to expanding lignite mines in the past could also be used for renewables. Liebing added that states and municipalities must actively support more expansion, arguing that part of the money made by the installations “must be left on site to let local residents see that they benefit from them.”

Speaking at the same event, energy industry lobby group BDEW head Kerstin Andrea said that even at a higher expansion rate, renewables “won’t do it alone,” arguing that much more natural gas capacity as a bridge technology will be needed by 2030, especially if the coal phase-out is pulled forward to the same year. Andreae stressed that Germany is striving for a complete energy transition and decarbonising the power sector alone will not be enough. She argued that 17 gigawatts more gas capacity will be needed and already made fit for later use as hydrogen infrastructure, as natural gas cannot be used past 2045.

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