Energy transition: Government launches "wind expansion accelerator".

The approval of wind turbines and power lines should be much faster.

Energy transition: Government launches "wind expansion accelerator".

The approval of wind turbines and power lines should be much faster. The federal cabinet initiated the implementation of new EU rules. This should often eliminate the environmental impact assessment for wind turbines. Solar systems and heat pumps should also be approved much faster in future, namely within three months. Very small solar systems up to 50 kilowatts should automatically be considered approved if the authorities do not reject them within a short period of time.

"Today the federal government launched a wind expansion accelerator that we haven't had before," said Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). This will bring decisive progress in the speed of approval procedures. The expansion of wind turbines and power lines will be significantly faster. This would give the federal states and authorities the basis to push ahead with the expansion of wind power at full speed. Habeck's draft is now going to the Bundestag.

"Species protection does not have to be materially behind"

According to Habeck, it is primarily about wind turbines, but also about power grids that are larger than 110 kilovolts. "These projects can be approved in a shorter time if they are planned by June 30 of next year," said Habeck in Kiel. Shortened environmental and species protection approval procedures will be available in future for wind power suitability areas and designated power lines. "A permit for solar systems is now to be granted in three months." For systems that are built on artificial structures, no environmental impact assessment should be carried out either. "And for heat pumps, the building permit should be issued within a month."

A so-called emergency regulation was agreed at EU level in December. Central point: If there is already a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in an area designated for wind power or power lines, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the species protection assessment can be omitted in the approval process for the individual plants.

"The whole thing has been regulated in such a way that species protection does not have to take a back seat," said Habeck. In order to protect species protection, the competent authorities should ensure that operators take "appropriate and proportionate avoidance and mitigation measures". If there is no such measure, the operators have to pay, for example for a "species aid program".

"We cleared a big barrier"

The federal government has set very ambitious goals for the expansion of renewable energies. Onshore wind power alone is expected to double from 58 gigawatts in 2022 to 115 gigawatts by 2030. However, the planning, approval and construction of a wind turbine currently takes five to seven years on average.

Habeck now expects significantly more speed. Habeck said he expects the federal states to do their part to promote the expansion of renewable energies. "Now we've cleared a big barrier here."