← All news

Key Wind energy players address failures in German EEG2021 Act

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

  • Last week (18 March 2021), WindEurope together with BundesverbandWindEnergie (BWE), VDMA power systems, and other German wind energy associations wrote a letter to the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
  • The letter outlined the biggest challenges to onshore wind development in Germany namely, permitting and repowering failures in the new German EEG2021 Act. 
  • They outlined six measures Germany could take to improve this situation and encourage further development in the sector.  

Statistics for 2020 from WindEurope showed that Wind accounted for 27% of Germany's electricity consumption while renewable energy in total accounted for over a 50% share of electricity generation. Germany has the biggest wind energy capacity in Europe with around 63 GW of onshore and offshore wind plants. Historically the country has been the leader in the expansion of onshore wind energy and WindEurope forecasts that the country will continue to hold this position from 2021-2025 with 16 GW of additional capacity but they mention that this can only happen if key policy issues are addressed. 

The main theme behind the EEG 2021 is Germany's goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 driven by zero-emission electricity generation. The EEG2021 has addressed measures to expand the German wind industry including setting out clear targets for wind capacity to 2030 with substantial increases in the onshore wind energy tenders. The Act has added incentives to municipalities affected by wind farms and also stipulated some short-term funding solutions for post-subsidy wind plants. However, according to the letter, the problem of permitting and repowering in the country remains to be addressed and could be a potential threat to the onshore wind sector. While the Government is aware of this issue and pledged to address it on a legislative level by the first quarter of 2021, further steps have not been taken and with general elections planned to take place this year in September, there is a sense of urgency in the matter.

The letter laid out the following six specific measures that the German government is advised to take to revive the German onshore wind energy sector:

  1.  Applying a 12-month permitting deadline for repowering of existing wind farms: The call is for the government to adjust the height, noise, and environmental criteria in the Bundesimmissionsschutzgesetz (Federal Immission Control Act) to reflect the characteristics of repowering projects 
  2. Creating a one-stop-shop for the permitting of wind energy projects: Calls for the simplification of Germany's permitting process that remains complex and fragmented. 
  3. Completing the implementation of the 18-point plan to improve permitting: To better streamline environmental regulation and reducing the set-back distance from radars to 10 km 
  4. Revisiting the EEG2021 provision allowing BNetzA the right to reduce wind energy auction volumes when it anticipates a risk of auctions being undersubscribed: the letter claims that this reduces visibility of the wind energy supply chain and doesn't address the fact that it's the slow permitting process causing under subscriptions in auctions. Additionally, this goes against EU rule that states that Governments must give 5 years' visibility on the timing, volumes, and budgets allocated to renewable energy auctions.
  5. Enabling the development of corporate renewable Power Purchase Agreements: to stimulate market-driven demand for renewable energy as Germany is lagging behind strong PPA markets such as Sweden and Spain. 
  6. Allow pilot projects with wind turbines of 6 MW or more to be exempted from having to compete in auctions: Germany should incentivize research and development in new onshore wind technologies by exempting 6 MW turbines from having to compete in auctions.  

The letter concludes by iterating the importance of addressing the aforementioned issues as being key to maintaining Germany's "attractiveness for investments in the wind supply chain". Considering that wind energy plays such a critical role in the German supply mix, the authors state that this progress can only continue if the right policy framework is in place. 

“If permitting does not improve, wind farm investors will get frustrated and turn their back on Germany.  The solutions are simple.  Some of the measures we propose only require Germany to implement the existing EU Renewable Energy Directive.  These measures can unlock big volumes of new wind energy projects currently stuck in the permitting process”, said Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO.

Dickson concludes: “We’re asking the German Governments to take six simple measures which will unlock immediate investments, jobs, and growth. Each new wind turbine generates on average €10m of economic activity. Germany should embrace that..”