Southern German states call on EU to allow regional wind power privileges
The leader of four German states have asked the European Commission to pass a special wind energy quota for the country's South, arguing that the expansion of wind energy needs to “pick up speed again significantly” in the next five years to decarbonise the power sector, Michael Bauchmüller writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The four southern German states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria on average are less windy and offer fewer easily available construction sites for onshore wind turbines than states in the country's coastal North, giving the latter an advantage in the government’s renewable energy tenders. The latest version of the Renewable Energy Act (2021) therefore includes a special quota for southern regions: in 2022 and 2023, 15 percent of all tenders are to be awarded to projects in the South, which still greatly lags behind in terms of wind power expansion even 20 years after Germany launched the policy of guaranteed renewables remuneration. However, the request for a special status was not approved by the European Commission together with the rest of the law due to concerns over competition distortions. As the first auction with a quota for the South is to be held in February, the four state premiers are now urging the Commission to rubber-stamp the rule, as uncertainty and restraint by project developers and investors could otherwise call the achievements of Germany’s ambitious energy transition expansion targets into question.
After years of growth in onshore wind energy capacity, new turbine additions dropped significantly in 2018. In the south of Germany in particular, distance rules and citizen opposition have seen wind power expansion dwindle in the past years. Between January and September 2021, 345 new turbines were built in Germany – only one in six of these were erected in the four southern states.