23 Aug 2023, 13:24
Benjamin Wehrmann

Slow expansion of wind power in southern Germany is 'depressing' – Scholz

Clean Energy Wire / Rheinische Post

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called the sluggish rollout of wind power in the south of the country "depressing" and warned that the three southern states – Hesse, Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria – must act quickly to increase installations. “It’s really depressing to see the actual expansion figures in these states,” he said, adding that all states had to pull together to bring renewables to scale and connect them with the national grid. During a visit to a wind farm in Simmerath in the country's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, the Social Democrat (SPD) said he was "very impressed" with the town, which produces more wind power than it consumes and has become a role model for the swift implementation of renewable projects, newspaper Rheinische Post reported. Simmerath’s 22 wind turbines, together with two biogas plants and various solar PV installations, produce the equivalent of nearly 190 percent of the town's annual power consumption. Scholz pointed out that the wind power projects enjoy broad support in the community, arguing the town would serve as an inspiration and show that his announced goal of building up to five turbines a day across Germany is possible. “We will change the law accordingly” to allow similar success stories to unfold all over the country, and also speed up solar PV and grid expansion, the chancellor added.

Scholz said that Simmerath’s example backs up his government’s aim to bring the share of renewables in the power mix to 80 percent by 2030, while power consumption is going to increase in parallel. “Since we want to become a CO2-neutral industrialised country, we will become a much bigger electricity consumer,” he said. Consumption is likely to increase from about 650 terawatt hours (TWh) per year to up to 800 TWh by the end of the decade. Simmerath’s mayor, Bernd Goffart from the conservative CDU, told the chancellor that planning and building a new wind farm must not take longer than up to three years, which is currently the minimum time it takes in Germany. “We have incredible amounts of bureaucracy,” Goffart said. North Rhine-Wesphalia's state premier Hendrik Wüst, who accompanied Scholz to the town, said Simmerath “is a prime example for what we all want in terms of the ‘Germany speed’ for renewables expansion.” He added that the wind farms also contribute greatly to the town’s budget. “Everybody wins. And that’s what it’s about: Speed through acceptance,” the state premier argued, adding that North Rhine-Westphalia’s government has launched ambitious plans for accelerating its wind power roll-out. 

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