Germany’s new economy and climate protection minister plans to increase wind tender volumes and accelerate permitting processes in a bid to speed up emissions reductions.
The Green Party’s Robert Habeck described previous climate protection measures as “inadequate in all sectors” at a press conference, and vowed to get Germany on course to hitting its climate targets by the end of the year.
To meet the new German coalition government’s ambitions to have renewables meet 80% of electricity demand by 2030 and reach climate neutrality by 2045, emissions reductions must accelerate, Habeck said. Last year, renewables met just 42.8% of electricity demand in Germany.
Habeck plans to introduce a first climate protection package at the end of April, a second in the summer, and then a third dedicated to onshore wind at an unspecified time, he added. Through these, the government aims to get all sectors on a trajectory to hitting these targets by the end of the year, he said.
The first package will address tender volumes and a phasing-out of the levy consumers pay to support renewables expansion. It is due to be sent to parliament by the summer and could be passed by the EU by the end of the year, a WindEurope spokesman advised. He added that the second package is due to address permitting and renewable hydrogen. An onshore wind law that would confirm how 2% of German land could be reserved for wind expansion is also due this year, though it is unclear precisely when this will be introduced.
Habeck has not yet revealed what the new volumes will be for technology-specific renewable auctions, or fully outlined how wind permitting – a major obstacle to the sector’s expansion – will be accelerated. A lack of fully permitted projects has led to a lack of eligible projects in previous German wind tenders, while the previous government's plans to introduce legislation to address this issue never materialised.
“All of this is a mammoth task," Habeck added. “And it will be a few years before we see the results. But what we are doing now lays the foundation for bringing climate protection and prosperity together."
The new German government plans to reduce the setback distance between onshore wind farms and radio beacons and weather radars, opening up more space for wind power development. The government has already committed to preserving 2% of German land for wind power development.
Habeck added that the government also plans to implement measures to better reconcile wind expansion with military interests.
Hermann Albers, CEO of German wind energy association BWE, suggested that smaller setback distances — the distance allowed between a wind farm and a settlement or other infrastructure — will help accelerate permitting. He added that increased tender volumes should also help to accommodate this extra wind capacity.
Albers said: “In principle, the minister has set the right priorities. It needs recognition that the expansion of renewable energies is in the public interest.
“The announced mix of immediate measures on the one hand and a sharpened, long-term framework on the other hand fits.
“This can bring stability to the reliability of the expansion of renewable energies in general and wind energy in particular.”
WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson added: “The Energiewende is roaring again. Germany wants a huge expansion of onshore wind. And the government fully understands that that requires faster permitting of new wind farms - and they intend to deliver this as soon as possible with a dedicated new onshore wind law. Today’s announcements mark the comeback of German leadership on renewables – fantastisch!"