NRW Presents New Draft Wind Power Decree

NRW’s minority government is planning to increase wind energy generation from 3% to at least 15% by 2020. To this end, the state Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Economics and Energy and the State Chancellery have recently submitted a new joint draft wind power decree for review by selected associations (Verbändeanhörung).

Since the 2010 state elections, the state of NRW is being ruled by a minority government formed by the Social Democrats and Alliance 90/The Greens. The new Minister of the Environment for North Rhine-Westphalia Johannes Remmel had already previously indicated the minority government’s intention to increase wind energy generation to 15%. To that end, Mr. Remmel said he wanted to transform the existing wind decree (Windkraftanlagenerlass) into a “wind energy enabling decree” (Windenergie-Ermöglichungs-Erlass).

The new draft wind power decree is aimed at outlining the ministries’ view of the legal possibilities for planning with respect to an expansion of wind power and to provide assistance regarding individual cases, with the intention of having more wind power generation in NRW.

Legally, such a decree is only binding for authorities that are subordinate to the issuing Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Economics and Energy and the State Chancellary. For the municipalities as the competent building authorities on the local level, the decree shall serve as a guideline. The decree is not binding for the courts.

For investors and local residents, the decree shall serve as an outline of the legal framework, pointing out the need for early co-operation with the competent authorities. Thus, it shall serve to improve planning and investment certainty.

The following recommendations seem particularly noteworthy:

  • It is recommended to review the possibilities of erecting wind power turbines in locations in which they do not significantly increase emissions, in particular along motorways, railroads and high-voltage power lines.
  • Pursuant to the Federal Land Utilisation Ordinance (Baunutzungsverordnung – BauNVO) the height of wind turbines can be limited. The decree points out that for height limits to comply with the law, there needs to be a specific local need from the point of view of urban planning. When deciding about a concentration zone for wind turbines with a height limit, it has to be considered whether this renders wind turbines economically not viable, the decree points out. According to present knowledge, this is the case for many locations with a height limit of up to 100m, it adds. Hence, municipalities are asked to review height limits, in particular with a view to the need to replace many turbines in the near future (repowering).
  • It is recommended to develop a municipal repowering concept so as to address the special issues related to the replacement of older wind turbines.

According to the newspaper Kölnische Rundschau, interested parties and associations are currently being heard. The draft has not been officially published by the ministries, but has been made public by politicians like Wibke Brems from Bündnis 90/Die Grünen. The Environment Minister expects the decree to enter into force in May, the paper says.

Sources: Wibke Brems, Kölnische Rundschau

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