The cabinet is forwarding another set of draft laws aimed at accelerating the country’s energy transition, detailing new rules for using a minimum of 2% of the country’s surface area for wind turbines and clarifying rules for species protection to parliament, where the legislation is scheduled to be passed before the summer break in July.
Following reports last week that disagreement between individual ministries, in particular over species protection, was likely to delay the government’s plan to get the new legislation into parliament before the summer break, the cabinet nevertheless pushed ahead with the two proposals that are to be passed by parliament as early as this summer.
The government made good on its promise to assign a fixed share of the country’s land area to onshore wind by dividing it up between the 16 federal states.
“We are taking into account wind conditions, nature and species conservation and spatial orders. It remains up to the ‘Länder’ to decide how they meet their land use targets. However, we rule out any prevention planning,” the ministry for economy and climate writes.
The target is to roughly double the capacity of onshore wind power in the country to 115 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, meaning annual capacity additions will have to reach around 10 GW as of 2025.
Following a wind power expansion boom after 2013, additions to Germany’s onshore wind capacity dwindled after 2017 and only slowly picked up again in the 2020s. By 2035, all electricity generated in Germany is to come from renewable sources, mainly from wind and solar PV.
With the “onshore wind energy law”, Germany’s 13 larger states have to have designated 1.4% of their surface area to onshore wind power by 2026; by 2032 they have to reach their respective target of 1.8-2.2%.
Bavaria, notorious for its anti-wind power policies, must reserve 1.8% of its land for onshore wind.
The states must do their own planning, guided by a set of uniform rules and modelling issued by the federal government, but can stick to individual distance rules if this doesn’t interfere with reaching the percentage target.
If, however, they do not manage to assign enough space to wind turbines, wind power investors would be automatically allowed to build new turbines in areas previously unavailable due to the distance rules. The country’s three city states, Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, must use 0.5% of their area for wind power.
Depending on their wind conditions and the size of their nature protection areas, certain states will only have to reach slightly less than the 2% share, while others must achieve slightly more. States can make deals among each other to fulfil their obligations.
The new rules will ensure that the expansion of wind power in the country is getting back on track, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said in Berlin.
“But I don’t want to hide the fact that it will mean an imposition for people and states,” he said, adding that he was prepared for having many debates and conflicts. While taking worries and fears about the wind power expansion seriously, Habeck said these wouldn’t make the government incapable to act.
While satisfied that the government is tackling too long planning procedures and legal hurdles for wind power, industry representatives strongly criticised the species protection rules for creating new legal uncertainties that would prolong procedures even more.