Anyone who lives near wind turbines and solar systems in open spaces will benefit economically in the future in Lower Saxony. The state parliament approved the corresponding law on Wednesday with the votes of the SPD and Green government factions. The CDU abstained and the AfD voted against the project.

The goal of the federal government is to significantly accelerate the expansion of renewable energies from wind and sun and make the federal state climate neutral by 2040. In addition to citizen participation, the new law also establishes municipal objectives for wind areas and an acceptance fee that system operators must pay to municipalities.

Resident participation focuses on wind turbines and photovoltaic systems in open spaces that have not yet been built. The project promoters are obliged to make the corresponding offer to residents within a 2.5 kilometer radius. According to the Ministry of Energy, there are various options for distribution, such as low electricity prices, direct payments or participation in citizen energy cooperatives.

30,000 euros for each wind turbine

On average, citizens should be taken into account with 0.1 cents per kilowatt hour contributed. “This direct participation of the local population is new and unique in Germany,” said Energy Minister Christian Meyer (Greens). The acceptance rate for municipalities should be 0.2 cents per kilowatt hour injected. According to the ministry, about 30,000 euros per year are raised for each new wind turbine. Municipalities could use the money, for example, to pay for free admission to the outdoor pool, strengthen local transportation, organize a cultural festival or support social institutions, Meyer said.

The territorial targets for the regions should be achieved by the end of 2032. They are limited to a maximum of four percent of the area and are based on the suitability for wind energy determined by scientists. Exclusion factors such as residential areas, traffic, infrastructure, nature conservation, military and water were taken into account. The maximum value of four percent was set for the districts of L├╝neburg, Rotenburg and Uelzen, but only 0.02 percent for the city of Osnabr├╝ck.

Thuringia takes a different approach

As a result, 2.2 percent of the country's surface area should be available for wind turbines in the future. This corresponds to approximately double the area used previously. According to the Federal Network Agency, Lower Saxony ranks second nationally, behind Bavaria, when it comes to the expansion of renewable energy. More than half of the installed capacity comes from the more than 6,300 wind turbines on land.

Thuringia takes a different approach: in the future, municipalities should be able to participate, but not citizens. The red-red-green minority government and the opposition CDU agreed to this compromise on Thursday. The CDU spoke out against citizen participation because, according to them, the organizational effort was too great.

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