Berlin (dpa) – For the much faster expansion of wind turbines in Germany, the federal government wants to impose legal requirements on the states and thus increase the pressure. Strict rules on distances from residential buildings should be abolished – if countries fail to meet the new area targets.
The Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection presented the plans on Wednesday. With much faster expansion of wind energy, the climate goals should be achieved. On the other hand, this should help to reduce dependence on fossil energies such as Russian gas.
In Swaimah, Jordan, Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) identified the planned area targets for wind turbines and other changes as “milestones” for faster expansion of renewables: “We’ve done it badly enough in the past.” Habeck visited several countries and, for example in Bavaria, insisted on faster development of wind energy – now federal regulations are to be changed.
Mandatory area objectives
According to the draft act, the main obstacle to the development of onshore wind energy is the lack of available space. Therefore, the federal government wants to set legally binding area targets for onshore wind energy: 1.4 percent of the federal area should be available for wind turbines by 2026 and 2% by 2032.
Different targets should apply to different countries as there are different requirements for wind energy. For the territorially largest country of Bavaria, 1.1% is planned in 2026 and 1.8% in 2032 – 1.7 and 2.2% for Lower Saxony. Lower Saxony is the number one region in the field of wind energy.
In most countries, the area-related objectives planned so far have been definitely unattainable. According to the federal government, 0.8 percent of the state area is currently devoted to onshore wind power, but only 0.5 percent is actually available. The German Wind Energy Association has repeatedly spoken of the north-south split in expansion: far more new wind turbines are being built in the north than in the south. Overall, however, expansion has stalled in recent years, which is also due to lengthy planning and approval processes – the federal government is keen to fix the problem as well.
From the point of view of industry and the ministries of climate protection and construction, restrictive national regulations regarding the minimum distance between wind turbines and residential areas are hampering expansion. Supporters, on the other hand, see it as a contribution to greater acceptance.
Habeck said “avoidance planning” is unacceptable. In particular, the state opening clause in the building code should be reformed. Until now, this allowed the federal states to set minimum distances from residential buildings up to 1000 meters – the so-called the priority of wind turbines may be withdrawn for this area. NRW used the clause. In Saxony and Brandenburg, the 1000 meter rule has been established, in Thuringia it is planned. There are even stricter rules in Bavaria, but the government there wants to relax them.
According to the bill, regulations regarding minimum distances should still be possible in the future. However, they should be related to whether the obligations arising from the planned “Wind Area Requirements Act” (WindBG) are met – ie whether the area objectives have been achieved in the first place.
Countries that have lagged behind in wind energy development so far need to consider how they want to achieve their goals: whether wind turbines are built in commercial forests, in rural areas – or closer to residential areas.
The federal government also wants to oblige states to regulate that the minimum distances do not apply to areas planned for wind turbines. To prevent this: Relevant areas have already been designated, but regulations on minimum distances prevent the construction of new wind turbines. The distance regulations in the Länder should be adapted by summer 2023 accordingly.
The following mechanism is also planned: If a country does not adapt the minimum distance rule and does not meet the area targets, the distance rules should cease to apply – and automatically expire. This should also happen when the country has not done enough to meet the area targets by 2024.
Even though the distance regulations should no longer extend to “wind energy areas”, ie the relevant priority areas, this does not mean that wind turbines are moving very close to residential areas. Because there are other legal requirements, for example in the Federal Immission Control Act, explained Jürgen Quentin of the Onshore Wind Energy Agency. There are no fixed distance requirements. The approval process, however, assesses noise propagation and also takes into account the type of housing development. According to Quentin, this results in demands which mean that systems have to keep a certain distance. It has been judged over the years that wind turbines should not be located closer than twice the height of the system to a residential area. With today’s system dimensions, this regularly means a distance of 500 meters from residential buildings.
donation of land
Countries that exceed their targets should be allowed to relocate their wind areas to other countries – for example windy Schleswig-Holstein to Bavaria. To this end, a state agreement is to be concluded by the summer of 2024. The question is then what is the compensation for countries that are developing a lot. For non-city states, transfer is limited to 25 percent of the relevant area value.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220608-99-591885 / 3