11 Feb 2022, 13:55
Benjamin Wehrmann

Wind turbines will occupy only fraction of German land earmarked for expansion – think tank

Clean Energy Wire

Only a fraction of the two percent of land surface the German government wants to reserve for wind power production will actually be needed for constructing turbines, environmental think tank KNE has said. “Of the two percent land area made available to wind power, only about two percent will be covered with installations,” meaning their share of the total area will likely reach only 0.04 percent, the KNE said in an analysis. The government aims to double the share of renewables in power consumption from the current 40 percent to 80 percent by 2030. Additional wind power capacity of over 70 gigawatts (GW) will have to be installed to reach government targets, said KNE. Two percent of Germany’s land surface equals about 715,000 hectares, with the number of turbines that can be erected on this space depending on a variety of factors, such as the distance between installations to maximise output and minimise wearout. As a rule of thumb, turbines should be at least five times the rotor’s diameter away from each other. For the average turbine commissioned in 2021, this means a total area of 16.5 hectares per installation, the KNE writes. Therefore, around 100 GW of capacity could be built on the additional area Germany plans to designate to wind power, the think tank said, adding that factors that can reduce the output on a particular site, such as the wind intensity, terrain or minimum distances to residential areas, may reduce this figure further. Moreover, only about half a hectare will be permanently sealed for the turbine, meaning that 98 percent of the area needed for wind power ultimately remains open to other forms of use, such as agriculture, the KNE concluded.

The impact of onshore wind turbines, Germany’s most important renewable power source, on the landscape has been debated for years, accompanied by concerns over minimum distances to residential areas, natural reserves and infrastructure for aviation and other purposes. The new government has said it plans to make sure every state reserves at least two percent of its area for turbine construction in order to avoid conflicts with other uses, a measure seen as indispensable to achieve its goal to considerably boost renewables production by 2030.

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