North Rhine Westfalia has once again opened its doors to renewable energy. The state's renewables programme (REN) became a victim of its own success in November 1992 when it was temporarily closed after being swamped with applications for support. Unable to cope, officials decided to put the programme on ice. In 1993 alone, DEM 80 million was granted to projects, the same amount used from 1988 to 1992. The rules have now been changed and the programme is back in force from the beginning of March. Initially only projects with a maximum investment sum of DEM 1 million can receive support. Larger projects are to be assisted by another programme, now in preparation, which will offer cheap loans. Projects may not be subsidised for more than 49% of their capital costs (including subsidy from other sources) and electricity utilities, municipalities and companies with sales above DEM 250 million per year are not eligible. Neither are subsidiaries if the stake held in them is greater than 25%. Instead of the former maximum support of 25% of project costs, wind turbines are now eligible for DEM 200/m2 of rotor swept area. A new condition is that the reported wind speed at a potential location must be documented by an independent qualified source to ensure that the project will operate economically.
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