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Not in Germany’s backyard

Published by The Editors | Filed under policy

Germany was supposed to be the unquestioned leader in green energy by now (they still lead most countries). But they’re not as far along in technologies such as wind power as some would have expected. The cause is the usual suspects: political squabbles; environmental reviews; not-in-my-backyardism; company battles.

With these virtues in mind, the government passed its Renewable Energy Act in 2000, extending the favorable tariffs to wind farms in Germany’s North Sea and Baltic waters. By 2002—the year in which annual installations on land peaked at 3240 MW—developers had filed 29 proposals for offshore farms that together would have had a generating capacity of 63 GW, which was equal to half of Germany’s entire installed capacity at the time. Germany’s ministry for the environment (its Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit, or BMU) forecast that 500 MW of offshore wind would be operating by 2006 and that an additional 2500 MW would come on line by 2010.

Then the plans crashed headlong into political reality. Almost immediately, conservationists and marine ecologists questioned proposed incursions into near-shore areas where millions of migratory birds breed and feed. The BMU handled that challenge by studying it carefully and then, in 2005, designating permissible zones for wind development that were far from shore and in deep water.

Key Stats: Germany must develop offshore wind farms in 20 to 40 meter deep water that is generally located 40 kilometers offshore. Contrast that with the U.K., Ireland or Denmark which allows offshore wind farms in 20 meter deep water that is within 15 kilometers of shore.

Resources: IEEE Spectrum - Germany's Green-Energy Gap

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