Wind power is an indispensable component for a climate-neutral energy sector in the industrial and energy state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Almost half of the renewable electricity is currently generated by wind turbines.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are currently around 3,570 wind turbines in operation with a cumulative installed capacity of more than six gigawatts. These generate around 12,300 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually, which corresponds to the average annual demand of around 3.5 million three-person households. With its installed capacity, North Rhine-Westphalia is currently in fourth place nationwide behind the windy states of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg.
Wind power as an economic factor
Around 20,000 jobs in North Rhine-Westphalia along the entire value chain depend on the expansion of wind power. From the production of individual components to project development and turbine operation to dismantling, recycling and research, the annual turnover is around seven billion euros. More than 40 per cent of this is accounted for by the supplier industry, which manufactures technical components and supplies locations far beyond federal state borders.
Existing areas must be used
A decisive factor for the expansion of wind power is identifying suitable locations. Thus, the State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection is currently revising the NRW Renewable Energy Potential Study – Wind Power. According to preliminary results, locations for up to 17 gigawatts are considered to be available in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the updated NRW Energy Supply Strategy, the federal state aims to double the current capacity to twelve gigawatts by 2030. This corresponds to a net annual increase of about 650 megawatts, which means about 150 new wind turbines per year at current turbine sizes.
Advancing the expansion in a way that ensures acceptance
In North Rhine-Westphalia, wind turbines must maintain a minimum distance of 1,000 metres from residential buildings. However, municipalities are still free to go as far below 1,000 metres as the emission regulations allow in their urban land use planning. Legal certainty for project developers is important.