Germany quickens onshore wind power expansion

BERLIN, Oct 13: Germany is accelerating the expansion of onshore wind power. Newly installed capacity in the first nine months of 2023 already surpassed last year’s total, according to estimates published by the Onshore Wind Energy Agency on Thursday.

New onshore capacity commissioned through September 2023 exceeded the prior-year period by more than 50 per cent, totalling 2,436 megawatts. More than one-third was built in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany.

With a share of 7 per cent, southern Germany was the “only downer”, the agency noted. Overall, the “dynamic development” suggests that by the end of the year, nationwide gross new construction will exceed the 3-gigawatt threshold for the first time since 2017.

Approval rates for new wind energy projects are also increasing. In the first nine months, 5.2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity were greenlighted by German authorities nationwide, more than ever before in this period.

“The upward trend in new builds and permits is an indicator that the measures implemented by the current government are now taking effect,” a spokesperson for the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action told Xinhua on Thursday.

With only 0.5 per cent of Germany’s territory available for wind energy for now, the government has recently placed greater obligations on the federal states. By 2032, they must designate around 2 per cent of their state areas for wind power.

To help achieve an 80 per cent share of renewable energies in its electricity supply by 2030, Europe’s largest economy plans to install up to 10 GW of onshore wind energy every year.

In the first half of 2023, renewables already accounted for more than half of the country’s gross electricity consumption, according to official figures. Wind was the most important electricity source, accounting for 28.6 per cent of total production.

However, to achieve its goals, Germany still needs to take “a whole bundle of measures,” pushing ahead with cutting red tape and speeding up procedures, the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) said on Wednesday.

“Even though we are seeing a very significant increase in new permits this year, it is still a tough challenge to reach the annual addition targets,” BWE President Baerbel Heidebroek said.