Who wants a wind turbine near you? Faced with this question, to which the answer is rarely positive, the German government plans to shake the carrot. Those who live near a wind turbine could thus receive financial compensation, and those who would soon do so would also be financially encouraged.
Proposed by the Social Democrats (SPD), the measure is supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During an event in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the mining land of northern Germany, it admitted that the energy transition would not be experienced in the same way by everyone: “Obviously, it is very easy to support wind energy when you live in the city. But when we live in the countryside, we can be really affected“.
The disturbing downturn in wind power
The rejection of wind turbines is far from being a simple problem of social peace: the production of German wind energy is severely affected. Local activism has affected the number of wind turbine construction projects, which is at its lowest level in twenty years – only 35 installations were built in 2019, a drop of 80% compared to 2018. What to jeopardize the projects from Germany, which has set itself the target of reaching 65% renewable energy in its mix by 2030.
Wind energy currently only accounts for 10% of the total energy produced in Germany. According to a study by the think tank Agora Energiewende, which supports the energy transition, three-quarters of the additional energy capacity the country needs to reach its 2030 target must come from wind power. At the same time, the government is juggling two other tight agendas: the shutdown of nuclear reactors, planned for 2022, and the abandonment of coal, planned for 2038 at the latest.
Extension of the nuisance domain
It is also well aware of the problem posed by the frond of local residents, the wind industry has given its blessing to the financial compensation measure proposed by the SPD. However, this is not the case for the municipalities, which are worried.
Uwan Brandl, president of the German Association of Cities and Municipalities, denounces money intended to silence: “it’s about paying people to keep quiet, he denounces. I don’t think that’s the direction to take. If we start paying people to remain silent, it will start with wind turbines but soon, it will apply to roads, or any other infrastructure. Government had better educate people and tell them that change can only happen if they agree to participate“.
The government plans to outline a solution by the end of the first quarter – the amount of compensation and the cost of the measure are not quantified at this stage.
At the same time, the German political parties are breaking up around the “1000 meter rule”, which provides that wind turbines cannot be built within 1000 meters of residences. If its terms remain to be determined, the measure will also affect wind production. It is estimated that this could drop by 20 to 50% across the country.