Interview

“To curb the expansion of wind energy…”

Jörg-Rainer Zimmermann, 6 Jan 14
That’s the new German government’s intention according to Christian Social Union (CSU) member of the Bundestag Josef Göppel, who helped to draft the coalition agreement but in the end did not approve it.

The coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD could significantly limit wind-energy production in Bavaria. Under the agreement, all future projects should be economically viable from a reference yield of 75 to 80 percent. According to estimates by the German Wind Energy Association in Bavaria, however, just a quarter of the 450 turbines included in the study currently functions at above 70 percent, and only some five percent of them achieve values of 80 percent. The grand coalition also wants to add a clause to Germany’s Federal Building Code that would allow individual states to decide on the implementation of certain laws. Horst Seehofer, minister-president of Bavaria, is behind this plan. Together with the state of Saxony, he is seeking to increase the minimum distance between wind farms and neighbouring residential areas to ten times the height of a turbine. This would compromise the Bavarian energy concept, which aims to increase the share of electricity consumption generated by wind power from around 0.6 percent in 2011 to between six and ten percent within ten years. Bavarian economics minister Ilse Aigner has already announced that the existing concept is now being revised. The coalition agreement also states that biomass, which is important for Bavarian farmers, should temporarily be limited “largely” to waste materials.

new energy: Mr Göppel, you played a part in drawing up the coalition agreement as a member of the energy working group, but in the end you did not accept the outcome. Why not?

Josef Göppel: Party leaders changed the energy working group’s text in two major areas. Firstly, the special regulations for community energy projects were removed. Secondly, a minimum output of 75 percent was specifically added for wind energy in line with the reference yield model. The original idea that good locations throughout Germany could still be operated more economically was thus undermined.

new energy: In your opinion, what does the agreement mean for climate protection and a successful switch to renewables in Germany?

Josef Göppel: Unfortunately, we can’t expect electricity production targets to be reached under these conditions, even after the expansion corridor introduced under former environment minister, Peter Altmaier. Towards the end of the legislative period, we will hear calls for a time extension for nuclear power plants once again. Alfred Gaffal, president of the Bavarian Industry Association, recently demanded that the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant, which is due to be shut down in 2015, be kept running for longer. I suspect that the nuclear industry’s plans for a revival are behind the slowing down of renewables in the coalition agreement.

new energy:  Many observers do not share such fears, partly because the legislative process involved in halting the nuclear phase-out would be too complex. Instead, given the views of the new Social Democratic Party (SPD) energy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, many fear a return to coal...

Josef Göppel: Maybe we south Germans have a somewhat different view of this issue. For us, nuclear power plants play a much greater role.

This is an abridged version of the interview – the full text is available in new energy issue 01/2014

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