Berlin wants to lift distance rules between wind turbines to develop onshore wind power

Berlin wants to lift distance rules between wind turbines to develop onshore wind power

The minimum distance between wind turbines and residential areas could be dropped by the German federal government in a bid to accelerate the slow expansion of this technology, reports Clean Energy Wire.

In the bill, seen by EURACTIV, the government wants to make changes to planning, building and environmental laws, with the aim of setting aside around 2% of the country’s land area for onshore wind power.

This is more than double the area currently allocated. The minimum distance rules, which are set by the federal state Germans in order to minimize neighborhood conflicts, could remain in place as long as each Land contributes to national wind energy goals.

The government aims to present the bill to Parliament later this month, which would allow it to pass through Parliament before the summer break.

The federal government justifies its intervention in national law by the requirements imposed by climate action obligations and national security considerations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to the project, the new “Onshore Wind Energy Law” is supposed to “radically accelerate” expanding and “remove all obstacles and constraints” which are currently slowing it down.

Less than 1% of Germany’s land area is currently designated as a potential location for the construction of wind turbines, and around 0.5% is actually used.

Bavaria wins

For Markus Söder, Bavaria’s Conservative Minister-President, the current bill can be seen as something of a victory. This large state has historically been opposed to wind power and has implemented known distancing rules that have reduced the area available for wind power to well below 1%.

Bavaria’s ambition is modest, as the southern state only needs to allocate 1.1% of its space to wind turbines by 2026 before having to meet a target of 1.8% from 2032.

Bavaria’s 1.8% bond is the lowest assigned to a Land German. The bill will allow the Bavarian government to have wind turbines built by others federal state in his name.

Thus, thanks to agreements with other federal state before June 1, 2024, the Bavarian government will be able to reduce its space allocation for wind turbines to slightly below 1.5%.

Implementation of REPowerEU

In its REPowerEU plan presented on 18 May, the European Commission proposed to speed up the process “slow and complex permitting for large renewable energy projects” and called on EU member states to designate areas set aside for renewable energy.

The German government will now transpose this proposal into the bill. By carrying out an environmental impact assessment upstream, the issuance of permits should be considerably accelerated.

The draft law provides for a one-year deadline for the issuance of building permits, with an additional three-month deadline in the event of special circumstances. Installations located outside the areas of interest should be authorized within two years, according to the project.

Furthermore, once an impact study has been carried out, nature protection clauses such as a species protection assessment will not be necessary.

The North Sea should be designated as a “area of ​​interest”although details have yet to be revealed.

Double the capacity

The government’s goal is to approximately double Germany’s onshore wind power capacity to 115 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

If the 2% target is met, Germany could build onshore turbines with a total capacity of 165 GW, according to the bill.

This law is expected to come into force on January 1, 2023, which will grant federal state a transitional period of six months before the first minimum size requirements become effective.

An intermittent space target will then need to be met by 2026 before the total space requirement takes effect in 2032.