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Germany’s Green-on-Green Wind-Power Battle

Germany’s new government plans to build between 1,000 and 1,500 new wind towers a year, but the commitment is facing permitting headaches and leading to tricky political riffs, according to POLITICO Pro (subscription).

Divided environmentalists: Wind power divides Germany’s Green Party, with some members calling for revision of EU nature protection laws to limit interference with wind power and others arguing that species protection “is as important as climate protection.”

No more red tape: The proposal would slash “a red tape logjam that had blocked many projects as a result of local resistance often couched in terms of protecting the environment, birds or beautiful views. That means up to 2% of the country will be covered by new wind projects.”

  • Germany’s new leaders “called for EU nature protection law to be revised so it doesn’t stand in the way of swiftly rolling out renewable energy.”

Crucial component: As Germany powers down its last nuclear reactors, wind power will become vitally important. Three reactors were shuttered last week, and the last three in the country will close this year. The government has also promised to eliminate all coal-fired power by 2030. 

Opposition: Onshore wind power frequently meets with opposition, leading to the Bavarian 10H law, which mandates that a wind tower be 10 times its own height away from the closest residential building. That rule has made creating new wind projects in Bavaria “almost impossible.” Concerns about wind towers killing birds have also fueled many of the fights about the projects.

  • “‘As soon as a red kite’—a bird species granted special protection under EU law—‘appears in a planning site, in principle nothing can be built there,’ Sven Giegold, state secretary in the new combined climate and economy ministry,  told German news wire RND.”

The NAM says: “T here is a serious lesson that policymakers in the U.S. should learn before it is too late: modernizing environmental permitting must be a priority and a bipartisan one,” said NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones. “For energy infrastructure of all kinds—from pipelines to turbines—our complicated, multilayered permitting regime acts as a significant barrier to developing new industries in America and a disincentive to onshoring manufacturing.”

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