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26 January 2023 - The German Bundestag has introduced new legislation to drive the energy transition forward by passing a law to increase and accelerate the expansion of onshore wind energy installations (Onshore Wind Act) and a second law to amend the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 20 July 2022. The amendments enter into force on 1 January 2023 for offshore wind energy and on 1 February 2023 for onshore wind energy.
The aim of the legislative package is to advance the expansion of renewable energy sources. For onshore wind energy, this is to be achieved by increasing the available land area by simplifying planning methods. The Onshore Wind Act also comprises amendments to the Building Code (BauGB) and the new Wind Energy Surface Area Requirements Act (WindBG). For offshore wind power plants, significantly higher auction volumes and faster planning approval procedures and network connections are planned.
Both Acts support the expansion targets anchored in the EEG 2023 to increase the share of renewables to 80% of gross electricity consumption by 2030. In the case of onshore wind energy, there is to be an annual increase of 10 GW in order to reach 115 GW in 2030 (EEG 2023). In the long term, installed capacity should remain steady at 160 GW as from 2040 and beyond. To achieve these ambitious targets, sufficient surface area for onshore wind energy must be made available. This means 2% of Germany's land area is needed in the medium to long term. At present around 0.8% of Germany's surface area is designated for onshore wind energy, although only 0.5% is actually available. The Onshore Wind Act now sets binding area targets for the federal states for the first time. Thus, in 2027 a total of 1.4%, and by 2032 a total of 2%, of Germany's surface area will be designated for wind power plants. The area targets are derived from the EEG expansion targets. The deadlines also allow for the necessary lead time for approvals and construction of the wind power plants. This can take about three to four years. So if the installations are supposed to supply electricity in 2030, then the sites must be available by 2027 at the latest.
The amendments to the Offshore Wind Energy Act provide for an increase in the expansion targets for offshore wind energy to 20 GW by 2030. These targets are planned to increase to 40 GW by 2040.
The Onshore Wind Act encompasses the Wind Energy Surface Area Requirements Act (WindBG), which sets individual surface area targets for each federal state, referred to as the amount of contributed area. These can be found in Annex 1 to the WindBG. The target allocations take account of the various requirements in place locally in the federal states for expanding onshore wind energy while at the same time ensuring that each federal state makes an appropriate contribution.
Amount of contributed area
Amount of contributed area
To achieve the targets, the federal states may designate the areas themselves or distribute the targets with binding effect across lower levels of planning authorities, for instance at the regional or municipal level. The federal states have until 31 May 2024 to show that the first measures for the contributed area targets have been implemented.
To integrate the area targets in planning law, new special arrangements have been created for onshore wind energy in the Building Code (BauGB). For instance, a legal consequences regulation has been anchored in the Building Code to the effect that, if the surface area targets are not met, wind power plants will then be privileged across the entire external area. This means that plants will then be permitted in areas outside the designated wind energy sites. Where a federal state has set the area targets, this privilege is accorded throughout the whole of the state territory. However, if the state has distributed the targets to lower levels, the privilege can now only be exercised in the region or municipalities where the targets have not been met. Furthermore, planning requirements for wind energy sites have been simplified. The provision concerning clear, legal target areas replaces the complicated provisions on substantive bidding and the resulting planning methods. Consequently the planning will be simpler, faster and legally secure.
In the case of offshore wind energy, too, there are legislative changes. The bidding model for offshore wind installations has been amended. From now on the participants in a bidding auction pay the price they bid as soon as their bid is successful. The auction criteria for offshore wind installation are now as follows:
- the contribution to the decarbonisation of offshore wind energy expansion,
- the supply volume of the energy generated from the designated areas that is expected via supply contracts with other undertakings,
- the noise pollution associated with the foundation technology used and the sealing of the seabed,
- and the contribution to securing a skilled workforce.
SMARD offers an opportunity to follow the progress and developments in wind power as a renewable source of energy.