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Why is it actually taking so long? How wind turbine projects are slowed down for years


Today even Robert Habeck's own wind power summit talks about it: many more wind turbines should be built in Germany. We show examples and graphics why the expansion often takes so long.

Today even Robert Habeck's own wind power summit talks about it: many more wind turbines should be built in Germany.

We show examples and graphics why the expansion often takes so long.

For more than ten years, the green electricity group Freiburg has wanted to build new wind turbines on the Taubenkopf on the flank of the Schauinsland.

Construction is finally set to begin this year.

This is how it is with many renewable energy projects in Germany: construction projects often last for many years.

An analysis of tens of thousands of data from the authorities shows why.

It is also a topic at the wind power summit with Economics Minister Robert Habeck: Why is it actually taking so long?

The wind power project on the Taubenkopf is an example.

After a long-term division of the region into possible locations for wind energy, the project finally picked up speed in 2018.

The company then needed a year and a half to conclude a lease agreement with the city and forest administration.

At the same time, the first environmental reports for the approval were obtained.

It took another two years until the end of 2021.

Wind energy: Approvals often take many years

All wind power projects in Germany have to go through similar procedures.

Expert opinions on noise protection and species protection as well as on building law standards are sometimes required for approval.

These, in turn, are partly based on on-site surveys lasting months.

On average, more than two years elapse between the submission of the application and the approval of a wind power project.

This is shown by a federal and state survey from 2022. And according to a current analysis by the Onshore Wind Energy Agency (FA Wind), just one in four wind power projects in Germany receives approval within twelve months.

The large number of participants such as companies, authorities and test centers does not make it any easier.

In addition: If investors change their plans or specialist agencies make additional demands, the procedures can drag on.

But even when all the documents are together at the end, the wind turbines are still a long way from turning.

The federal report mentioned shows, for example, that approval procedures in Hesse still take an average of more than 27 months even after all the necessary documents have been submitted.

The nationwide average is 11 months.

The Hessian Ministry of Economics justifies the long procedures with a denser population and a higher occurrence of endangered animal species than in other countries.

It doesn't make things any easier that the length of the procedure has increased over the years.

In 2015, procedures lasted only a year and a half on average, as a report by FA Wind shows.

The report by the federal and state governments comes to the sobering conclusion that the reality is still "far away from the desired rapid procedures" that are necessary to achieve the climate goals.

The federal government is also aware of this problem.

A new law has been in force since the beginning of the year, which is intended to standardize and speed up the approval of new wind turbines.

Hundreds of lawsuits against wind power projects

As the example of Taubenkopf in Baden-Württemberg shows, building a wind turbine is still a long way off even after approval has been granted.

A citizens' initiative complained against it.

In the lawsuit, she stated, among other things, that the red kite nesting on site could be endangered.

The wind power project in Schauinsland is by no means an isolated case: in 2019, more than 300 of them were the target of lawsuits, according to a survey by FA Wind.

This corresponds to a fifth of all plants that have been approved but have not yet been put into operation.

In Bavaria and Hesse it was even around 40 percent.

The most common reason for complaints is species protection, similar to the Taubenkopf, but noise protection and building law are also often disputed.

After all: At Taubenkopf, the lawsuit hardly delayed the project.

This is reported by the managing director of the green electricity group Andreas Markowsky in an interview with IPPEN.MEDIA.

The objection to the project was rejected after six months and clearing work started in winter 2022. However, it is still possible that the project will end up in court again.

In addition, court proceedings can in many cases take even more years.

For example in a case in Hesse.

The municipality of Willingen sued there in 2018 against the construction of three wind turbines.

After three years, the company was finally right, but had changed plans to build newer, more powerful wind turbines.

The community filed a lawsuit against them again and won the case at the beginning of 2022.

The future of the wind turbine is unclear.

Delivery bottlenecks delay implementation

Even if all other steps have been successfully completed, it can still take a long time before the actual construction.

Of more than 900 wind turbines approved in 2021, only 122 are in operation so far.

This is shown by our analysis of the Federal Network Agency's market master data register.

It used to be different: in 2010, more than half of the approved wind turbines were connected to the grid the following year.

Materials that are difficult to obtain lengthen many of the construction projects enormously.

Increased demand, the corona pandemic and the Ukraine war have exacerbated long-standing problems in the supply chains for building materials.

This is exemplified by the steel import price, which has almost doubled since 2015.

The wind turbine on the Taubenkopf is now confronted with precisely this problem.

By the end of February, all the trees at the site had been felled.

Access roads are to be built and the foundation laid in the course of the year.

Everything else, however, depends on the suppliers, according to Markowsky.

It is unlikely that the plant will go into operation this year.

And that more than ten years after the project had started in the Ländle. 

Our data, sources and methods:

Information on the duration of official approval procedures for and lawsuits against wind power projects comes from the annual report 2022 of the cooperation committee of the federal and state governments as well as from analyzes by the FA Wind.

The latter draws data on lawsuits against wind turbines from an industry survey in which 91 companies took part.

Our analysis of wind turbines that have been approved but have not yet been put into operation is based on data that we took from the Bundesnetzagentur's market master data register.

There we have compared the specified date of issue of the permit with the date of initial commissioning.

In cases with change approvals, the approval date refers to the last approval issued.

This means that for a proportion of the plants, the date of the first approval and the date of the first commissioning can even be further apart.

Data on the development of the steel price comes from the Federal Statistical Office.

Data on goals and measures of federal environmental policy come from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-03-22

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