Expansion of offshore wind energy: Too fast for environmentalists – business

The North and Baltic Seas are in demand like never before. For shipping anyway. Increasingly also for the supply of natural gas since the Chancellor ordered floating liquefied natural gas terminals at the “German pace”. According to plans by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), carbon dioxide from industry could soon be stored under the seabed, and then there is the boom at sea: wind power.

More than 1,500 wind turbines have now been built in the North and Baltic Seas; on average, they generate around six percent of Germany’s electricity, and the trend is rising. And there should be more, much more. Instead of the current 8.5 gigawatts of power, wind turbines with 30 gigawatts of power should be in the sea by 2030, and even 70 gigawatts by 2045. The sea becomes a power plant almost unnoticed. But where does that leave the marine environment?

The environmental foundation WWF, which is actually open to renewable energies, has commissioned a legal report on this. Result: When it comes to using the sea, too much is now happening too quickly, too easily, and that goes beyond environmental standards and environmental assessments. The North Sea is already not in a good condition “ecologically and from a nature conservation point of view,” writes Hamburg environmental lawyer Roda Verheyen in the report. “Any further use, including through wind turbines and the associated infrastructure, must be measured against this.”

The EU is accelerating its expansion of offshore wind power

Specifically, it is about an acceleration directive from Brussels, or RED III for short. In this way, the EU states should work together to ensure that the share of renewable energies increases to 42.5 percent by 2030. And not just in terms of electricity, but in terms of all energy. This proportion is currently a good 23 percent. And 2030 is basically the day after tomorrow.

The EU is therefore primarily focusing on speed. The states should designate “acceleration areas” in which approvals can be granted more quickly – even at the expense of environmental assessments. Member states can still convert existing areas that were earmarked for offshore wind energy into “acceleration areas” by law until next week. The traffic light coalition, always striving for quick procedures, didn’t need to be told twice: It included the relevant regulations in the solar package that was passed at the end of April. The report now states that even significant environmental impacts could no longer have much of an impact on the projects.

There is a draft law in the Bundestag for other parts of the directive. But the WWF warns that this is also overshooting the mark – so much so that it could ultimately violate European law. Wind farms, for example, could achieve the rating “not expected to have any environmental impact” if they were only built outside protected areas. That’s not how it works, says the WWF. Both the protection of the marine environment and the expansion of renewable energies are needed, warns board member Heike Vesper. “The federal government’s regulatory proposals do not currently ensure this.”

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