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Germany to raise offshore wind target in bid to reach climate goals

Government now wants 20GW of offshore wind by 2030 under plan to meet ambitious climate goals

The so-called ‘climate cabinet’ of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government on Friday as part of an wide-ranging climate package has raised the country’s long-term offshore wind target and lifted a volume cap for solar support.

But it was not immediately clear whether an increase in annual onshore wind and solar targets were still included.

The package aims at making sure Germany reaches its ambitious 2030 climate targets, and a 65% share of renewables in the power mix by then (up from 38% in 2018). It also contains measures for transport, industry and agriculture.

According to the 'corner stones' of a 2030 climate protection programme, Berlin plans to boost Germany’s 2030 target for wind at sea to 20GW, up from 15GW envisaged so far, and meeting long-standing demands by the industry.

BWO, a group representing offshore wind farm operators, said that even if 5GW in additional wind capacity at sea alon will not be able to save Germany's energy transition, the measure is an important step to reach the 65% target.

The BWO said wind farm and transmission system operators, as well as state and federal governments now need to meet to decide how to put higher targets into practice.

"The operators of offshore wind farms have long proposed such a meeting and stand ready for a constructive cooperation," BWO managing director Uwe Knickrehm said.

According to a larger, 139-page draft seen by Recharge on Thursday, the package would also call for auctioning off 3.9GW in onshore wind capacity per year, up from 2.9GW so far, which would result in a cumulated capacity for wind on land of 80GW.

It wasn't clear Friday afternoon, whether the coalition also stuck to the increased goal for wind on land, a spokesman at German wind federation BWE said, or whether it would cut that bit out of the climate package.

After strong lobbying by the wind sector, the government according to the draft also wants to diminish impediments to the currently sluggish onshore wind expansion, in particular in planning and permitting as well as in availability of areas for wind power.

It also plans to support repowering, better synchronise climate and species protection, speed up planning procedures, and improve the “compatibility of wind energy use and aviation,” – all demands raised by the wind sector in recent weeks.

German gross onshore additions this year had collapsed to a mere 287MW in the first half, the lowest figure since 2000, which had triggered alarm signals throughout the European wind sector.

To the dismay of the wind industry, the 'corner stones' for the climate programme presented on Friday also include a rule to keep a minimum distance of 1,000 metres between new wind farms and settlements.

Individual states within 18 months after the new rule becomes law have the right to establish shorter minimum distances, though.

German wind power collapse puts Merkel's green legacy in peril

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Nevertheless, green energy groups were disappointed.

"The corner stone paper is a programme to prevent [the] wind power [expansion]," Greenpeace Energy policy chief Marcel Keiffenheim warned.

"For the expansion of wind energy on land, this paper is a declaration of bankruptcy by the government."

In solar, the government according to the draft leaked on Thursday aims at lifting annual additions to 3.5GW instead of 2.5GW, in order to reach about 85GW in cumulated capacity by 2030.

It was unclear Friday, whether the higher annual solar target was maintained.

But the 'corner stone' paper did confirm a scrapping of a 52GW limit until which support for solar installation will be paid. That figure is expected to be reached very soon, possibly next year.

Through the higher targets, emissions in Germany’s energy sector would decrease by 43 to 51 million tons of CO2 more than in a business-as-usual scenario, and push emissions in energy down to 175-183m tons in 2030. That would be 61-61% less than in 1990.

The government from 2021 on also wants to phase in a price for CO2 for the transport and heating sector, which so far is not included in the European emission trading system (ETS).

The initial price will be €10 per ton of CO2 emitted and then gradually rise to €35/ton of CO2 in 2025.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian allies from the Christian Social Union (CSU) and their coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD) had negotiated most of the night and all morning to fine-tune the package.

The climate cabinet meeting Friday was accompanied by massive street protests by the Fridays for Future teen climate activist movement in hundreds of German cities.

UPDATED with government 'corner stone' paper of measures

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