Germany calls for consensus on wind energy

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier (CDU) sought to address the crisis currently facing the German wind industry at a wind summit in Berlin on Thursday.

“We want to preserve this industry and give it a perspective for the future,” said Altmaier after the summit.

In the coming months, Germany’s national and state governments intended to reach a “national consensus” on the expansion of onshore wind power, according to Altmaier.

The expansion of onshore wind in Germany had essentially come to a standstill, with only 35 new wind turbines built in the first half of this year. The number dropped by 82 percent within one year, according to the German Wind Energy Association (BWE).

Meanwhile, in the latest round of tenders a “new negative record” was set. Only 42 percent of the tendered bid volume of onshore wind projects in Germany was approved by the German network agency (BNetzA), according to specialist agency for onshore wind energy FA Wind.

In their 2018 coalition agreement, the German governing conservative union CDU/CSU and Social Democrats (SPD) had agreed to increase the national target for renewable energies to 65 percent by 2030.

However, the approval situation and the latest tender results would stand in “sharp contrast” to the necessary expansion path, read a joint CDU/CSU position paper that was published ahead of the wind summit.

The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) emphasized that “demands for measures to stabilize the expansion of wind energy must not be at the expense of nature and the landscape.”

Around one quarter of wind turbines in Germany were located in protected areas, according to the BfN. The German nature conservation association (NABU) estimated that every year, a high five-digit number of birds died on power transmission lines in bird sanctuaries in Germany.

According to the FA Wind, more than 300 wind turbines were currently facing legal complaints, most often for reasons of species protection.

Germany’s largest trade union IG Metall warned of the consequences of another slump in the sector as 8,000 to 10,000 jobs have been lost in the German wind industry since the beginning of 2018.

IG Metall announced on Wednesday that the current figures were a continuation of the negative development since 2017, when the German wind industry has already lost 26,000 jobs.

The wind industry was Germany’s “most important industry for achieving the expansion targets for renewable energy sources and thus a central building block for achieving the climate targets,” Wolfgang Lemb, member of the IG Metall Executive Board, told the German Press Agency.