“The wind farm saves our swimming pool” – survey looks into renewables dividend for German towns
Many people in Germany, including those generally in favour of renewable energies, remain critical of wind parks near their own homes despite financial incentives to towns and municipalities to accept wind turbines on their lands, a research project by the Agency for Renewable Energies (AEE) has found. Looking into the connection between regional value creation and public acceptance of wind energy projects, the researchers analysed ten case studies in different parts of the country. Silvia Scheu-Menzer, mayor of the municipality of Hünfelden in central German state Hesse, said that the financial incentive helped in their case: “Our argument was: the wind farm saves our swimming pool." She added that “unity, perseverance and a lot of communication” were key to making the wind farm happen. Nevertheless, it took eleven years from designating the construction site to commissioning the turbines. Steven Salecki from the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) calculated that in total, about 327,000 euros remain in the community in an average year of operation. Eighty percent of this amount goes to the local authorities and 20 percent through participation in the wind farm to citizens of Hünfelden, who also raised 30 percent of the equity capital.
Expanding renewable energy capacity, including onshore wind energy, is one of the key objectives of the German energy transition if the country is to reach its 2045 net-zero emission target. But long approval processes and citizen opposition have led to a slowdown in wind power capacity expansion in recent years. The prospective new government, currently negotiating its coalition agreement, wants to use two percent of Germany’s land area for wind power and wants to shorten planning procedures significantly.