Bavaria has implemented draconian conditions for new wind farms. At Starnberger Lake, a mayor and his community have rushed to complete a wind farm before the new stipulations take effect. The story shows that not all Bavarians support their state government’s stance on wind power.
“The Energiewende is very, very important to us,” says Rupert Monn, mayor of the town of Berg. “But we don’t just want to talk; we also want to take action by generating electricity where it is consumed.”The new wind farm completed at the end of November is thus a call to action. The community owns 15 percent of the wind farm, and construction would soon not have been possible under the new rules for wind turbines, which now must be at least 10 times further away from the nearest buildings than the top blade tip. With modern wind turbines reaching 200 meters up, the distance would then be 2,000 meters – which practically rules out new projects in such a densely populated area. Even if the local people affected support the project.
Critics of the policy, like Monn, point out that the only space left is at the top of mountain ranges.
Locals got around this new policy requirement by getting their plans in before 1 August. The closest structure is only 1.25 kilometers from the nearest turbine. A vote in the local citizens council found widespread support for the project, with 20 yea votes and only two nay votes.
The wind farm is built in an area with wind velocities of 5.9 meters per second at hub height – moderate conditions common in southern Germany. The turbines are expected to run with a capacity factor above 26 percent, producing between 25 and 28 million kilowatt-hours annually.
Investors are municipalities and locals
169 stakeholders invested in the project, some 30 percent of them local citizens, with the rest being citizens from neighboring communities. The municipality also produced 15 percent of the equity (6.6 million euros) towards the total price tag of just over 21 million euros. The forest belongs to the state of Bavaria, which receives a lease. In addition to citizens from local communities, a nearby utility also invested. The wind farm consists of four turbines, and the project was developed by a local engineering firm.
Even though there was so much local involvement, protests came from many. “You will be able to see the turbines from the lake,” Monn says. The area is a traditional tourist attraction, and some citizens were concerned about the wind farm’s impact on tourism. One group of citizens from Starnberg collected enough signatures to contest the project. But the citizens council demonstrated that it could not withdraw a valid permit. Protest also came from the neighboring town of Neufahrn.
Now, the investors are waiting for proof that the new project will not harm tourism. “Even in a special cultural landscape, it’s okay to see where the energy we consume comes from,” Monn says. He adds that the region not only lives off of tourism, but also from industry. “And wind power is important in that respect.”
Source: Renewables International. Reproduced with permission.