Expansion of wind power: Headwind for Habeck in Bavaria

Status: 01/20/2022 1:10 p.m

Hardly any wind turbines are built in Bavaria anymore – the reason is the controversial distance regulation. Climate Minister Habeck wants this to be softened. At a meeting with Prime Minister Söder, it became clear: It won’t be easy.

Climate Minister Robert Habeck has demanded concessions from Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder in the faltering expansion of wind energy in his country. “We also need ecological patriotism to expand difficult technologies such as wind power,” said the climate minister at a meeting in Munich.

The sticking point is the so-called 10H rule, which has been in effect in Bavaria since 2014. A wind turbine must therefore be built at least ten times as far away from the nearest residential building as it is tall. Exceptions are possible, but rare. The 10H rule has effectively stopped the expansion of wind power in Bavaria. In the first three quarters of 2021, not a single new permit application was submitted. In 2013 there were 400 applications. The figures come from the answer to a request from the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament.

“Then we can also close the shop”

Habeck also sees the regulation as the main obstacle to the stuttering expansion of wind power in Bavaria. One has to end the “downward cycle” in wind power, where each federal state is trying to be the “biggest inhibitor”. This should not continue: “Then we can also close the shop.” As Minister for Germany, he promoted “that we face what is necessary, for the benefit of the people, society and then also the economy in Bavaria,” he added.

“Wind is incredibly likeable from a distance, sometimes quite overwhelming up close,” countered Söder. Not only Bavaria is struggling here, but also Baden-Württemberg, which could be due to the topography, he said with a view to the weaker wind in the south.

However, one is prepared to talk about exceptions. In principle, it is conceivable to soften the 10H regulation in the Bavarian state forest, for example. Söder explained that one could also imagine exceptions when replacing old systems with more modern and more powerful ones, the so-called repowering. “We’ll have to see if that’s enough.” By March at the latest, Bavaria wants to present proposals on how capacity can be increased despite the controversial distance regulation.

Söder calls for the expansion of energy lines

With the proposals, Bavaria also wants to put wishes on the table, announced Söder – and insisted on an expansion of the energy lines through Germany. The federal state with strong industry is already an electricity importer. More and more companies want to be supplied exclusively with green electricity, which is also difficult because of the sluggish expansion of power lines from the north.

Despite the different views on the expansion of wind energy, Habeck and Söder spoke of constructive talks. Söder praised the fact that Habeck was not immediately threatening with laws, but was instead looking for a discussion.

The new federal government has set itself the goal of generating around 80 percent of electricity from renewable energies by 2030. Wind energy on land plays a central role in this. Two percent of Germany’s area is to be reserved for this purpose. Söder clearly rejected this demand. “We’re just skeptical about the two percent,” said the CSU politician. “That would be 200,000 soccer fields.”

How the expansion of wind power has progressed in 2021

G. Fröhlke, P. Reifferscheid, WDR, Morgenmagazin, January 20, 2022

New wind turbines: Lower Saxony and Brandenburg top

In recent years, the expansion had come to an almost complete standstill due to a lack of space. According to the German Wind Energy Association, almost 500 wind turbines with an output of less than two gigawatts were built in 2021, around 35 percent more than in 2020. For comparison: Habeck is planning a new construction of five gigawatts per year starting next year, which is expected to double to ten gigawatts by 2027. Because old plants were also shut down, the net increase was only 1692 megawatts, according to the German Wind Energy Association and the VDMA Power Systems trade association.

Almost three quarters of the newly installed capacity was realized in 2021 in Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein. Lower Saxony and Brandenburg were the leaders with 104 new systems each. Apart from the city-states, the smallest increase was in Saxony, Saarland – and Bavaria.

According to expert estimates, only about 0.1 percent of the Bavarian state area is available for wind. Söder pointed out that – with the exception of wind energy – Bavaria is at the forefront of all renewable energies. Bavaria generates more than half of its electricity consumption from these sources. “For us, wind is a building block, but not the only issue.”


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