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Germany's Scholz pledges rapid onshore wind power expansion

Rebecca Staudenmaier
February 5, 2023

By 2030, some 2% of Germany's land mass is supposed to be designated for wind turbines. Berlin has faced criticism for falling behind on its climate goals, and sees wind power as a way to catch up.

Wind turbines are pictured above a thick layer of fog in southern Germany with the Alps visible in the background
Scholz said Germany will need a regimented system to expand renewable energy sources in order to meet climate targetsImage: Thomas Warnack/dpa/picture alliance

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the government is drawing up a plan to massively accelerate the construction of wind turbines in Germany, he said in an interview published on Sunday.

The German government has been criticized heavily by environmentalists over failing to meet its own emissions targets. As Germany looks to secure reliable fossil fuel sources amid sanctions on imports from Russia over its war in Ukraine, Scholz's government is also looking to generate more renewable energies.

What are Scholz's wind turbine plans?

Scholz outlined the German government's onshore wind power goals in an interview published by the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper. 

"By 2030, an average of four to five onshore wind turbines will be built each day," the chancellor told the paper. He did not elaborate on the total number of wind turbines the government hopes to have built.

"We are currently drawing up a roadmap of what new systems need to be built, and by when, so that we can reach our goals for 2030;" he said, adding that the government was planning on taking a "regimented" approach.

Is bureaucracy stalling the energy transition?

The push for more wind power is outlined in Germany's new "Onshore Wind Energy Act" which was approved last summer, but took effect at the start of February.

In order to reach the targets, the leaders of Germany's 16 states must set aside land and present plans to the federal government.

"Every month, there will be talks with the states to see how far they have progressed. Whatever is not finished on time will have to be made up for," Scholz said.

What is Germany doing to build up wind energy?

According to the new law, Germany's states are responsible for proposing spaces of land where the wind turbines can be built.

The states can also individually decide about the spacing between the wind turbines, but if not enough land is put aside for wind power projects, the federal government can step in and override the state's rules regarding distance between the turbines.

According to the law, 2% of Germany's total land mass must be designated for wind energy use by 2032. In the shorter-term, states must ensure that at least 1.4% of Germany's land is set aside for wind projects by 2027.

Germany has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2045, and has outlined a slew of plans for phasing out coal.Despite setting climate goals to help curb global warming to the 2 degree Celsius limit outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement, Germany has been criticized for failing to meet its own targets.In 2021, Germany missed its emissions targets in the transport and building sectors. Both environmental organizations and some of the German government's own climate expert commission have criticized the proposals for not going far enough.

Russia's war on Ukraine accelerated Germany's push for new fossil fuel partners and renewable energy sources, as well as some shorter-term domestic measures like booting up coal-fired power plants.

Edited by: Mark Hallam

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