NRW Enacts New Wind Power Decree

Shortly after the presentation of the draft NRW Climate Protection Act, the Climate Protection Minister of the state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), Johannes Remmel, enacted the state’s new wind power decree as a first element of the new climate protection strategy.

NRW’s minority government formed by the Social Democrats and Alliance 90/The Greens is planning to increase wind energy generation from 3% to at least 15% by 2020. In the announcement for the wind power decree, the government points out the importance of wind energy as decentralised, sustainable energy source in an era in which Germany is pulling out of nuclear power.

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, providing a guideline for all parties involved. Legally, the decree is only binding for authorities that are subordinate to the issuing Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Economics and Energy and the State Chancellary.

Of the key points of the wind power decree listed below, the two related issues of the replacement of older wind turbines (repowering), by newer, more efficient and usually higher ones and the topic of height limits, are probably the most interesting ones for investors. As a quote of the CEO of RWE AG by Rheinische Post shows, not only proponents of renewable energy, but also traditional utilities that increasingly invest in renewables called on the NRW government to act in favour of higher wind turbines.

The decree points out that although the height of wind turbines can be limited pursuant to the Federal Land Utilisation Ordinance (BauNVO), there needs to be a specific local need from the point of view of urban planning for height limits to comply with the law. When deciding about a concentration zone for wind turbines with a height limit, it has to be considered whether this renders wind turbines uneconomical, which is the case for many locations with a height limit of up to 100m, it adds.

Key points of the NRW wind power decree:

  • The Wind Power Decree forms part of the Climate Protection Strategy
  • The Energy Agency of NRW will develop extensive advisory services for municipalities
  • Information regarding the designation of land for the use of wind power in regional planning and land use planning
  • Recommendations with respect to repowering of wind turbines older than ten years
  • Recommendation to review height limits
  • Information and recommendations on minimum distances from residential premises and requirements regarding noise protection
  • Information on the exclusion of wind turbines in specified nature preserves including minimum distance from residential premises and protection of species
  • Overview on permitting procedure for small wind turbines
  • The early involvement of the citizens shall create transparency
  • A new information and advisory platform for mediation in conflicts related to wind energy (EnergieDialog.NRW) shall be created as part of Energy Agency

Source: State of North Rhine Westphalia (press release), Wind Power Decree

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