Expansion of wind energy in Germany is stalling
As of: 12/22/2021 1:07 p.m.
The expansion of wind energy in Germany made slower progress in 2021 than it has done in 20 years. The differences between the federal states are great, as a data analysis by the SWR shows.
When it comes to expanding wind energy, 2021 was one of the worst years in Germany since the turn of the millennium. This is the result of a data analysis of the SWR to wind power. According to data from the Federal Network Agency, 460 new onshore wind turbines went into operation across Germany this year (as of December 21). That is the lowest value in 20 years. The previous low point was 2019 with 479 systems.
The negative trend of recent years is thus continuing. Since 2018, there has been a drastic decline in the construction of new wind turbines, among other things due to stricter distance rules and changed tendering procedures. In 2017, more than 2,000 new wind turbines were put into operation in Germany – four times as many as this year.
Climate goals at risk
The development of wind energy has “fallen short of expectations” in the past few years, shares the responsible Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection SWR-Request with. Germany must now “increase the expansion of renewable energies” and need “new, high-yield areas for wind and PV (photovoltaics) and faster approval procedures for the systems”. The new federal government will work on that.
From the point of view of the energy experts of the non-governmental “Energy Watch Group” (EWG), Germany threatens to miss its climate targets. In order to still achieve the 1.5-degree target, the country would have to be emission-free in 2030, as several of the studies they have submitted have proven, according to a spokesman for the EEC. It has also been shown that the necessary energy supply from 100 percent renewable energies will be possible by 2030. To do this, however, around ten times as much wind power would have to be connected to the grid annually as in 2021. That makes economic sense too, because wind power is one of the cheapest methods of generating electricity.
The Bundesverband WindEnergie (BWE) also demands that the expansion of wind energy “must accelerate significantly” “if the federal government wants to achieve the German climate targets”. After all, there is a slight upward trend in the total output of wind turbines newly installed this year compared to the low point in 2019. Above all, it is important that the approval procedures for wind turbines are significantly shortened from an average of four to five years. The coalition agreement of the new federal government gives hope that the situation will improve in the future.
Lower Saxony with top position
A total of around 30,000 wind turbines are currently registered with the Federal Network Agency in Germany. According to the data analysis of the SWR are by far the most in Lower Saxony, namely 6391. This is followed by Brandenburg (3927) and North Rhine-Westphalia (3620). As expected, the fewest wind turbines are in the city states of Bremen (93), Hamburg (68) and Berlin (12).
Bavaria (1290) and Baden-Wuerttemberg (841) do poorly among the territorial states. In relation to the respective state area, these two federal states are in the last two places by a clear margin. In purely mathematical terms, there are 0.02 wind turbines per square kilometer in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. In Lower Saxony the density of wind turbines is six times higher – in Schleswig-Holstein even ten times as high.
A country comparison also shows that in the relatively small Rhineland-Palatinate (1763) more than twice as many wind turbines are in operation as in Baden-Württemberg (841) – and significantly more than in Bavaria (1290). Hessen has only a third of the area of Bavaria, but almost as many wind turbines (1126).
In eastern Germany, especially in Saxony (916), expansion has almost come to a standstill. This year only one new wind turbine went into operation there; in 2020 there were three. Brandenburg (3927) and Saxony-Anhalt (2874) are by far the leaders in the east in terms of total installed wind turbines. At the request of the Saxon State Ministry for Energy SWR with the fact that one is “not at all satisfied” with the current situation. But a new “energy and climate program” has already been adopted. This should remove obstacles and accelerate expansion over the next few years.
Expansion of wind power “slumped massively”
The Ministry of the Environment in Baden-Württemberg also admitted to the SWR one that the expansion of wind power plants had “slumped massively” in the past few years – “not only in the south, but nationwide”. One cannot be satisfied with the current situation. This is due, among other things, to the lengthy approval procedures and species protection reasons, which slowed down the expansion. That is why a “task force” has now been set up with the aim of “massively accelerating” expansion. In addition, “the prerequisites for the construction of 1000 new wind turbines are to be created in the Baden-Württemberg state forest,” said the Ministry of the Environment in Stuttgart SWR With. As a first step, 90 new wind turbines would be erected.
The Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy announced that “the expansion of wind energy does indeed need more dynamism”. The result for 2021 could improve due to possible late registrations. With the “Bavarian Wind Energy Offensive UPWIND” one will work for an “improvement of the development of wind energy in Bavaria” and for an acceleration of the approval processes. So far this year, twelve new wind turbines have been connected to the grid in Bavaria, including four very small systems – in years with high expansion rates, up to 160 new wind turbines have been installed in Bavaria.