24 Jan 2020, 14:08
Benjamin Wehrmann

Support of wind power expansion continues to be widespread in Germany

Clean Energy Wire

Despite a slump in the expansion of onshore wind power in Germany, most people in the country remain fundamentally in favour of the renewable energy source, a survey by pollster YouGov has found. Nearly three in four people (74%) said they back wind power as an energy source and 73 percent said they also consider further expansion of the technology to be important, while 16 percent of the respondents said they are against wind power. Nearly one third (30%) said they welcome the effect wind turbines have on the landscape, whereas 20 percent said they resent it. The survey showed a clear correlation between youth and wind power acceptance: 40 percent of those aged 18 to 24 said they are in favour of the turbines' effect on the landscape, while only 28 percent of those aged 55 or older had the same opinion. Conversely, seven percent in the youngest surveyed age group said they reject wind turbines, while that figure rose to 25 percent in the oldest age group. Almost 80 percent of people who live within a distance of five kilometres to the nearest turbine said they are not disturbed by the installation, whereas 20 percent of that subgroup said the renewable power plants are a nuisance to them. Nearly a quarter (24%) answered they prefer offshore wind farms to onshore ones but 45 percent said both forms of wind power are equally important. Only eight percent favoured onshore wind farms and nine percent rejected both. YouGov conducted the survey online in January 2020 among 2,068 people, 42 percent of which said they live close to an onshore wind farm.

Wind power is Germany's most important renewable energy source and contributed nearly one quarter to total electricity production in 2019, more than any other power source. However, while offshore wind power grew unfettered in that year, the expansion of onshore turbine capacity dropped by 80 percent, leading to warnings by industry associations that a persisting slump would have severe consequences for business and employment and could make Germany's emissions reduction and renewables expansion goals unattainable. Due to persistent protests by local interest groups, Germany's economy ministry proposed a minimum distance for new turbines of 1,000 metres from the nearest residential areas, an idea that was met with resistance from renewable power associations but also from industry groups and many of the country's states.

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