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German Government finds compromise on onshore wind distance rules and abolishment of solar cap

  • Germany
  • Energy and infrastructure - Clean energy


Following several months of negotiations among the coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, earlier this week the German Government has agreed on several legislative changes to bolster the investment environment for renewable energy projects to achieve the target of 65% renewables in the German electricity mix by 2030 foreseen in the coalition agreement.

Regarding onshore wind, an agreement was found for the concept of distance rules. Additionally, several measures are to be taken in order to accelerate planning procedures and approval processes for new onshore wind projects. Small PV projects shall be supported by dropping the 52 GW solar cap which until now sets a capacity limitation for the subsidisation of small PV projects.

Onshore wind distance rules

Although investments in new onshore wind projects has seen a steep decline recently, the German coalition Government did not manage to agree to more supportive measures. As a compromise, the idea of a nation-wide 1 km distance rule for onshore wind was dropped but instead the individual German States may, within their discretion, opt in to 1 km distance rules. So, the respective Governments at the state level shall take responsibility for the distance rules to be applied in their state. Except for Bavaria which links the distance to the tip height of the WTG (10 x), there shall be a maximum distance requirement of 1 km to the next settlement. The definition of “settlement“ shall in this context also be resolved on at the state legislation level. Hence, once the individual States have made use of their new competencies, German federalism will most likely lead to a great variety of distance rules, with States which are more supportive of onshore wind going far below the 1 km, and require investors to exactly review the respective applicable law for each new project. Finally, it was agreed to modernise the planning procedures and approval processes for new onshore wind projects in order to accelerate the whole procedure. Key features of such modernisation shall be the use of digitalisation with respect to public hearings and a downsizing of the different appeal stages.

No more cap for PV projects

The 52 GW solar cap shall be abolished, the exact timing still being unclear. Reaching an installed aggregate capacity of 52 GW within Germany, which is expected to occur later this year, would have ended any future subsidisation of smaller solar systems with a capacity of up to 750 KW each. As a consequence of the new law, the typical roof-mounted solar systems will continue to profit from the existing market premium model.

The results of the compromise between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats can only be seen as a first step towards a more favourable environment for further investments in renewable energy projects in Germany. Besides, they still need to be put into draft legislation and as such take its way through the parliamentary legislative procedure.