Germany

Germany

BACKING FOR NATIONAL GUIDELINES

Germany's political opposition has promised to support attempts to unify regulations regarding wind plant building permits as well as to give them special privilege under building law and help raise more funding for wind and solar research and development. Wind energy must still be strongly promoted if it is ever to reach the same political footing as fossil fuel.

On the eve of Germany's general election, Gerhard Schröder, the Minister President of Lower Saxony, has pledged his support of a proposal to streamline the country's hotch potch of regulations governing wind plant building permits. At the moment there are no national guidelines to assist district councils, with the result that they often invent their own rules for tower height, blade colour, siting distances, and so on -- to the frustration of the wind industry.

Schröder was speaking at a Wind Energy Day, organised by Tacke Windtechnik at its Salzbergen premises on September 7. Mixing politics with public relations, Tacke had invited Schröder to express his views on the future of German wind energy and organised a viewing of its new TW 300 kW turbine and the company premises at the same time. The proposal for national planning guidelines was mooted by the founder of Tacke Windtechnik, Franz Tacke. He suggested founding a working group under the auspices of the Lower Saxony Energy Agency -- an initiative which Schröder promised to support. The working group would also look again at ways of giving wind turbines special privilege in planning law. An attempt to do so this summer was quashed by opponents.

Schröder, a member of the Social Democrat party, currently in opposition in Bonn, estimated that it will take 30 years before his party's goal of a nuclear-free Germany is reached. The challenge for wind, he said, was how to make it work together with fossil fuel plant. On grid connection costs for wind turbines, Schröder suggested that the regional authorities use their powers as major shareholders in Lower Saxony utilities to get a better deal for wind developers. And he also promised to fight for increased public funding for wind and solar research and development. "Compared with what is spent on nuclear power, the amount that goes to wind is no more than a tip," he said.

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