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Coastal states warn Merkel of 'end of Germany’s wind industry'

To counter massive job losses the five Northern states demand a 5GW-a-year onshore target and 30GW offshore by 2035

The state premiers of Germany’s five coastal states have asked Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks about the “highly worrying” situation in the country’s wind industry, and presented an 11-point plan to boost the onshore and offshore wind expansion.

The heads of government in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony reminded Merkel that more than 40,000 jobs have already been shed in the wind industry, while onshore additions have plummeted to 507MW this year so far, compared to a 2.7GW average in the years 2014-18.

“If this trend continues, there will no longer be a German wind power industry in the foreseeable future,” the state premiers said in an open letter to the Chancellor.

To achieve Germany’s target of 65% of renewables in its power mix by 2030, a faster wind power expansion is urgently needed, the state premiers said. Four of them are from Merkel’s Social Democratic coalition partner and one from her own Christian Democratic party.

They also warned of a minimum distance rule of 1km between new wind farms and even the smallest settlements, which would bring the wind power expansion to a near standstill. The federal government unexpectedly had included a nation-wide minimum distance rule in its recently drafted climate package that is supposed to accelerate – not slow down – the renewables build-up.

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Among the demands by the five Northern states is a binding onshore wind expansion target of about 5GW per year, and a new 30GW cumulated offshore wind target by 2035. So far, Germany operates a 15GW target for wind at sea by 2030, which Berlin intends to raise to 20GW, but has no goal for 2035.

The politicians also demand extra offshore wind tenders in 2020 and 2021, as the federal government coalition had promised in its coalition contract last year but so far failed to enact.

Instead through a distance rule, acceptance among the population should be increased through a higher participation, also financially, by municipalities that host wind farms.

“Citizens will be more eager to accept wind farms in their vicinity if the municipality or they themselves profit directly from those machines,” said Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state premier Manuela Schwesig.

The letter also demanded simpler rules for repowering, a faster grid expansion, and fewer possibilities for legal appeals, all demands put forward by the wind sector in recent months.

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