Onerous permitting process hits German onshore wind

22 February 2019

Problems with Germany’s permitting process for onshore wind farms are threatening to stall development of the sector.

In the country’s latest auction for onshore wind farms, just 476 MW of capacity was awarded out of a total of 700 MW on offer. The average price of bids was €61/MWh. This was slightly lower than the previous auction in October 2018 (€63/MWh) but higher than May 2018’s €57/MWh.

The lack of demand in the auction is the result of problems in the permitting process, according to WindEurope, Europe’s wind industry association. “This is now the 3rd German onshore wind auction in a row that’s been under-subscribed. It’s clear the permitting process is not fit for purpose,” said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson.

According to WindEurope, it can now take over two years for developers to obtain a permit for an onshore wind farm, compared with 10 months just two years ago.

Even projects that get a permit are increasingly being challenged in the courts, and at least 750 MW of wind farm projects are currently stuck in legal proceedings. “It’s taking longer and longer to get a permit,” said Dickson. “The Bundesländer are reluctant to identify new locations for wind farms. And even if wind farms do get a permit, many then get caught up in legal disputes, which is pushing up costs.”

WindEurope has called on the German government to take action to make the permitting process easier. “The Bundesländer need to identify appropriate new zones for onshore wind,” said Dickson. “If they don’t, auctions will continue to be under-subscribed, and prices will remain higher than they should be. And this will jeopardise Germany’s target of 65 per cent renewables in electricity by 2030.”

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