German minister calls for 2% of land for wind power

Photo: EPA German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze has called for more land to be made available for wind energy and has demanded that the government move forward on the issue. Schulze, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) wants to see more backing for her proposal from Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), the lead partner in Germany's governing coalition.

"Anyone who says yes to more climate protection must also say yes to more electricity from wind and solar power," she told dpa.

The main way to increase this is to make more space available for wind turbines, she said, adding that the nation would need to allocate 2% of land area for this purpose.

She said if not enough space was made available, other measures would not work, and said the CDU should facilitate changes to building and regional planning law to avoid losing time.

She pointed to the southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg as moving to slowly in terms of expanding wind power.

North Rhine-Westphalia meanwhile is moving backwards, she said, in terms of new regulations.

"Things can't go on like this if we don't want to endanger our industrial location with its energy needs," she said, in reference to German manufacturing and the need for power.

One of the key challenges in Germany is that much of its wind power comes from the north, while industry is concentrated in the south.

The federal government meanwhile is seeking to tighten climate targets, partly in response to a landmark decision by the country's highest court which ruled that the government may not postpone major steps on emissions reduction as delays would come at the expense of the younger generation.

A key way to move forward on climate protection is to expand green electricity more quickly but there are disagreements within the governing coalition on this issue.

Expanding wind power is being slowed down by lengthy planning and approval processes, according to the energy industry, and too few designated areas. Meanwhile, multiple lawsuits have been filed concerning species protection, for example.

The president of the German Wind Energy Association, Hermann Albers, said that setting aside 2% of the area of each of Germany's 16 states for wind energy would be enough to make a strong contribution to Germany's transition to clean energy.

He said the governing coalition could anchor this target in its Renewable Energy Sources Act and the Regional Planning Act, which would be a powerful commitment for state and regional planning.

"Announcements, however, do little to help us. Concrete action is needed," Albers said.

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