Expanding wind energy for Germany

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The Onshore Wind Energy Act Expanding wind energy for Germany

The Federal Government has set itself a target of doubling the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030. Wind power will play a major role in this. The Onshore Wind Energy Act aims to rapidly accelerate the expansion of wind energy in Germany. Following approval by the Bundestag, the Bundesrat passed the act into law on Friday.

4 Min. Lesedauer

Onshore wind energy will be significantly expanded. In order to achieve this, planning and approval processes for wind power plants will be sped up, and the necessary space will be made available. 

At present, 0.8 percent of Germany’s land area is approved for onshore wind energy, but only 0.5 percent is actually usable. In response, the Federal Government intends to expand the area available and also create legally binding land-use targets.

Speeding up expansion of wind energy

The new Onshore Wind Energy Act, recently put forward by the Federal Cabinet, will bring about this acceleration. Alongside legal requirements for areas designated for wind power, the law also includes changes to rules in the Building Code and updates rules on monitoring in the Renewable Energy Sources Act. As such, the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Federal Ministry for Building are involved in the plans, along with the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.

In combination with the changes to the Federal Environmental Protection Law recently approved by the Federal Cabinet, the proposed new Onshore Wind Energy Act forms the first part of the Federal Government’s Acceleration Package II – Summer. This not only aims to rapidly accelerate the expansion of renewable energies, but also to achieve climate goals. 

Germany is faced with major challenges: we want to achieve our climate goals while at the same time advancing modernisation and digitalisation and transforming our energy supplies. To achieve this, we need to speed up how we plan, decide and implement projects. The Federal Government is working hard on significantly speeding up planning and approval processes, proposing a range of improvements and continually developing new ideas. The Federal Government has published a statement, “Speeding up planning and approvals – accelerating the transformation”, in which it presents what has been achieved and the next steps.

In harmony with nature conservation 

“The climate crisis and species extinction are the two most significant ecological crises that we must now tackle at the same time and in partnership,” stressed Federal Minister for the Environment Steffi Lemke at the presentation of the draft law. “By making changes to the Federal Environmental Protection Law, we are facilitating leaner, swifter and more legally robust procedures to expand wind energy. At the same time, we are upholding high environmental standards and protecting endangered species through a new species protection programme. By doing this, we are combining two objectives,” she went on.

Binding land-use targets for Länder

To achieve the targets in the Renewable Energy Sources Act, two percent of Germany’s land area must be designated for onshore wind energy. The law aims to implement this by the end of 2032.  According to the decision made by the Bundestag, 1.4 percent of Germany’s land area is to be available for wind energy by 2027. The decision promotes repowering measures that reuse existing sites.

The new Wind Area Requirements Act will set down binding land-use targets for the Länder.  To do this, the draft law includes a redesigned clause that regulates regional laws on the proximity of wind farms to residential and built-up areas. 

“We’re sharing this out fairly across the regions, but also taking into account wind conditions, environmental and species protections and the physical environment on the ground,” said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck following the Federal Cabinet meeting on 15 June. It is up to the Länder to decide how to meet their land-use targets. “We are however ruling out laws that only state where wind farms may not be set up,” Habeck stressed.

The Renewable Energy Sources Act significantly increases expansion targets for renewable energy. According to the Act, 80 percent of the electricity used in Germany in 2030 should come from renewable sources, so as to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. 

All the Länder have to play their part

While the Länder can continue to set minimum distances, they must now ensure that they meet the land-use targets set down in the Wind Area Requirements Act and thereby play their part in expanding wind energy. 

If they do not achieve their land-use target, the proximity rules for that Land will be suspended. “Failing to achieve land-use targets by certain key dates will have future consequences for planning in the Länder. To prevent that from happening, we’re simplifying and speeding up the planning process,” announced Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz.