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Germany

Germany

German state to boost wind energy

GERMANY: The Social Democrat-Greens party coalition that has taken power in the densely populated and industrialised German state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) plans to substantially improve conditions for expanding use of wind energy.

North Rhine Westphalia legislature faces wind vote
North Rhine Westphalia legislature faces wind vote
The new government hopes to manage a turnaround from the current situation in which NRW has fallen behind in wind energy use compared with other inland German states. In 2009, NRW stood in fifth place at the end of 2009.

However, it will have to rely on votes from other parties to push its policies through.

The two parties’ coalition agreement calls wind energy "the fundamental pillar" among the renewable energies and must be significantly expanded if the state is to achieve its climate targets.

The aim is to increase wind energy’s contribution to electricity supply in the state from just 3% to at least 15% by 2020, explicitly from wind stations installed within the state.

A fivefold increase in wind capacity would increase NRW’s current fleet from nearly 2.9GW to about 4GW.

The agreement states that a thorough overhaul of planning rules will be needed to eliminate restrictive arrangements such as turbine height limits and blanket rules on the distance required to houses and residential areas.

The coalition also plans to follow in the footsteps of the states of Bavaria, Hesse and Rheinland Palatinate and allow installation of wind turbines in afforested areas.

The new government’s planned climate protection law will aim for a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions in the state by 2020, compared with 1990.

Under this law, spatial planning in NRW’s five Government Districts - Arnsberg, Detmold, Düsseldorf, Köln and Münster - will have to take account of the new requirements for wind energy.

The plans include priority areas for wind energy use covering a total two per cent of the state’s land area. Regions can earmark more or less than this amount, as long as the total two per cent is met.

Land alongside motorways and railway lines as well as in commercial and industry estates is to be included in the search for suitable areas for wind energy use. Nature protection areas will continue to be excluded from wind energy use.

At the moment, responsibility for defining priority areas for wind in NRW lies with the municipalities, of which there are 300 in the state, divided between a total 31 rural districts.

Around 80% of the municipalities have already implemented plans with priority areas for wind energy and these will have to be amended to meet the new aims.

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