Germany to require states to allocate land for wind farms

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The moon is pictured behind power-generating wind turbines from a wind farm near the village of Ludwigsburg, northern Germany October 5, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

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BERLIN, June 15 (Reuters) - Germany's cabinet on Wednesday approved plans to require its 16 states to allocate a minimum amount of land to onshore wind farms, according to a ministry statement, as Berlin strives to meet its renewable energy targets.

The ruling coalition parties aim to introduce the draft law to the Bundestag lower house of parliament before the end of the month and for it to enter into force in early 2023, according to the draft bill approved by the cabinet.

The legislation aims for 2% of land in Germany to be set aside for wind farms by 2032, up from 0.8% now, with an interim target of 1.4% in 2026.

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Germany aims to obtain 80% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030, with a goal of increasing the capacity of onshore wind power to 115 gigawatts - equivalent to the capacity of 38 nuclear plants.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has mounted pressure on Berlin to speed up its green transition and diversify its energy sources to bolster the security of supplies.

Under the plan approved on Wednesday, the government can suspend rules on how far away from residential areas wind farms must be built - which in practice has often slowed down the expansion of wind energy - if states fail to meet their targets by certain deadlines.

At the same time, the legislation foresees an easing of wildlife protection rules to open up more land for possible construction of wind farms.

A group of industry associations said more work was needed on the draft to ensure that approval processes were not unnecessarily held up by deliberations over the protection of bird species if the legislation is not clear enough.

Nature conservation group NABU, meanwhile, has welcomed that wind farms could potentially be built closer to residential areas to prevent them from encroaching further and further into nature preserves.

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Reporting by Christian Kraemer; Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Mark Potter and Bernadette Baum

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