The government of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, looks likely to abolish a controversial minimum distance rule for wind turbines, according to reports on 21 August by news magazine Der Spiegel and online agency Clean Energy Wire. Currently, turbines must be a minimum distance of 1000 m from the nearest residential building.
The government coalition in the western industrial state, composed of the conservative CDU and the Green Party, is expected to eliminate the minimum distance rule, which critics regard as one of the main reasons for the country’s slow onshore wind power development in recent years. The state’s coalition plans to erect at least 1000 new turbines in North Rhine-Westphalia during its current term, while chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany as a whole should aim to build up to five new turbines every day in the next few years. In their draft law, the state’s coalition parties argued that speeding up renewables expansion will help reduce power prices and increase supply security. They cautioned, however, that this would only work “if acceptance by people across the country is secured and increased further.”
Germany’s federal government has given all states the task of designating a given share of their territory for onshore wind power development by 2032. North Rhine-Westphalia plans to designate 1.8 % of its territory for wind power by 2025. Recent turbine licensing figures for the state, as well as for the rest of Germany, suggest that the pace of expansion has already started to pick up after several years of limited capacity additions.