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German onshore wind targets reduced as focus shifts offshore

London — Germany's energy ministry presented plans Monday to unblock the standstill for onshore wind growth, with less ambitious onshore wind targets to be offset by higher offshore targets in the 2030 climate package.

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Initial plans for 80 GW installed onshore wind capacity by 2030 were downsized to 67-71 GW in the latest draft of thegovernment's 2030 climate program, wind association BWE said Friday.

Plans to lift annual tender volumes by 1 GW to 3.9 GW were cancelled, it added.

Instead, the government lifted the 2030 target for offshore wind by 5 GW to 20 GW. This would almost quadruple annualoffshore wind generation to around 77 TWh based on average load factors.

The lower onshore wind targets would still yield 145 TWh/year, down from 180 TWh/year based on the 80 GW capacity target, the BWE said.

In total, this should still double wind generation in 2030 from 2018 levels when some 88 TWh were generated onshore and 19 TWh offshore, with currently 60 GW installed of which some 6 GW is offshore.

Germany's government targets a 65% share of renewables in the power mix in 2030, up from 35% in 2018, with ministriescurrently fine-tuning the economy-wide 2030 climate package based on the climate cabinet's framework recommendations on September 21.

Wind group BWE criticized the government's lack of onshore ambition with the reduced targets translating into annual additions of only 1.4-1.8 GW endangering the 65% RES target, it said.

Onshore wind growth has collapsed this year following a regime change from feed-in tariffs to competitive auctions, with some 11 GW projects stuck in the approval process due to tighter planning restrictions.

The flagging onshore sector had pinned its hopes on the 2030 climate package following a crisis meeting early September with the government.

However, Monday's vague to-do-list from the government underlines the various challenges faced by onshore wind, including aviation and military restrictions as well as appeals by nature groups and local residents. Availability of suitable land due to new regional planning restrictions concerning the distance of turbines from houses and slower-than-expected grid expansion are other key issues.

The detailed measures across various departments address those issues and are intended to boost local acceptance of wind farms by allowing communities to benefit more from projects, increase protection against legal challenges and better synchronize wind and grid plans.

Germany already tenders an annual 2.9 GW of subsidized onshore wind contracts, but recent tenders have been severely undersubscribed, with average prices rising sharply from the ill-designed 2017 auctions dominated by so-called citizen projects without firm approval and longer project realization times.

Wind is set to replace lignite coal as Germany's biggest source of electricity for the first time this year with output for the year to date some 11% ahead of 2018 at 84 TWh by end-September, transmission system operator data show.

Offshore wind, which benefits from higher load factors compared with onshore, is set for the biggest gains, with the final projects under legacy feed-in tariffs coming online.

Offshore wind associations have welcomed the higher 2030 target with offshore wind focus now also turning to possiblecross-border projects and the integration of hydrogen, as outlined by a joint declaration with the Dutch energy ministry last week.

-- Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Burgess, james.burgess@spglobal.com