In an assessment for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Guidehouse and the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy Systems (IEE) demonstrate the effect minimum distances from residential settlements have on the availability of land for onshore wind energy. Depending on the reference point, minimum distances of 1000 m could reduce available development area between 10 and 40%. In addition to the scarcity of available space, the regulation could also lead to considerable delays in the designation of new areas.
Based on a previous examination of available wind areas for the Federal Environment Ministry, the authors investigated the impact of applying the minimum distances to different surface and building categories across three variants. Due to minimum distances of 1000 m around residential areas in the so called 'inner areas', the wind area availability is reduced by about 10%. If the minimum distances are also applied for mixed use across the ‘inner areas’, the availability is reduced by approx. 15%. If the minimum distances are to be observed for all residential buildings in the ‘outer area’, the wind area availability is reduced by approx. 40%.
The investigated areas are based on the regional and urban land use planning for onshore wind energy. This includes designated areas but also plans which have been dropped, are part of a legal case or at draft stage. The potential installation capacity from these areas amounts to roughly 80 GW. In practice, however, part of the land is not usable due to restrictions, in particular in the area of species protection, air traffic control and military matters. Actual availability is even lower due to the high proportion of regional plans that were stopped, are at draft stage or part of a legal conflict. The report shows which measures would allow to increase the usability of wind areas, also in the vicinity of rotating radio beacons.