North Rhine-Westphalia's new govt bets on wind, rooftop solar energy

Wind farm. Author: fantastklywell.

June 28 (Renewables Now) - The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia will pursue a massive expansion of wind and rooftop solar energy backed by natural gas for a transition period in an effort to become Europe's first industrial region to reach climate neutrality.

The rapid rollout of renewable energy is a key prerequisite for achieving the state's climate protection targets, maintaining the competitiveness of local businesses and ensuring an independent and secure energy supply, the new state government, consisting of the Christian Democrats and the Greens, said in its coalition agreement.

To drive the green energy push, Germany's most populous state will seek to install at least 1,000 new wind turbines in the next five years and abolish the 1,500-metres distance requirement in the regional development plan as well as remove the 1,000-metres distance rule for repowering projects. These distance requirements will be replaced with control over new wind areas at both state and federal level.

Additionally, more areas such as industrial and commercial plots, disaster areas and areas along infrastructure routes will be designated for wind energy.

To accelerate the addition of wind capacity, the state will simplify, streamline, shorten and digitise planning and approval procedures. A task force will be formed to identify hurdles to renewables deployment and make recommendations for their removal.

Along with wind, solar energy should also make a significant contribution to reaching North Rhine-Westphalia's climate goals. The state government aims to promote the deployment of new solar capacity and allocate more areas for solar plants.

In the context of its densely built-up areas, the state plans to gradually make the installation of PV solar systems on roofs mandatory. All new public buildings will have to be equipped with solar panels on their roofs from the beginning of next year. The obligation for solar roofs will be introduced for new commercial buildings and residential buildings on January 1, 2024 and January 1, 2025, respectively.

Furthermore, the new capacity for subsidised ground-mounted solar plants in less-favoured regions will be gradually increased to 300 MW annually and floating PV parks, agrivoltaics and solar systems on carports will be preferred in order to reduce the use of land.

The new state government admitted in its coalition agreement that natural gas will be crucial for a certain period but noted that new gas-fired power plants must be built in a way that enables them to run on climate-neutral gases.

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