Germany is taking steps to curb its booming windfarm sector in what it claims is a necessary move to stop the renewables revolution from undermining its own success. Critics, however, say the step will deal a blow to the country’s reputation as a leader in green energy.
According to leaked plans from the German federal network agency, published on Tuesday in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the government has had to halve its original target for expanding its windfarms in the gale-beaten northern flatlands because it cannot extend its power grid quickly enough to the energy-hungry south.
When Angela Merkel announced in May 2011 that Germany would seek to phase out its fleet of nuclear reactors by 2022, questions arose as to whether renewable sources of energy, such as wind or solar, could grow quickly enough to meet the requirements of German industry.
Yet five years later, windfarms in the northernmost states are producing so much energy that in some cases the state has to pay renewable energy companies to switch off their turbines to stop congesting the power grid.
In theory, the manufacturing sector in southern states like Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg would be supplied with green energy from the north. But plans for an ambitious north-south “energy highway” between Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria have stalled, due in part to local protests against proposed “monster pylons”.