New legislation concerning energy, and especially green energy, sometimes proves to have a negative, unwanted influence for the development of renewable energy technologies. In France, such a law was about to come into force; luckily some of its worst impacts have now been averted by some amendments. The wind power sector in particular would have been substantially hurt by the implementation of the original version.
The fact that legislation has an enormous impact on the enlargement of renewable energy sources becomes obvious when looking at the development of the wind industry in Austria. The decade leading up to 2006 has seen a continuous increase of the sector, with 347 MW of new capacity installed in the last single year before the new law (Ökostromgesetz) came into force. The first year after its implementation, the number of new wind turbines was… zero! By 2009 only 33,5 MW of new capacity were installed there.
One of the main problems of the original law is that it consideres them ‘classified installations’ – such as chemical and other factories as well as refineries – which are judged to represent a potential risk to the environment. This will make it even more difficult to obtain permissions for windparks. Even before this new law, about 60% of projects were being refused, says Andrea Perduca, director of turbine producers “Societé Française d’Eoliennes”.
Another, now revised proposal was to establish a minimum legal size for wind farms of 15 MW capacity. Today single wind turbines are in the range of 1 MW to 2 MW, so that would mean it requires ten to fifteen turbines minimum per park. This has now been changed into a minimum of five turbines, explains Andre Antolini, president of the Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables (SER).
Within Europe, France has the largest potential for the wind energy, but Germany and Spain have by far greater capacities installed. A positive signal is the fact that the new and amended law sets a target to install 500 MW in wind power output capacity every year. At the moment, in France there are 3500 wind turbines with a capacity of 4500 MW. The Grenelle consultations called for the percentage of renewable energy in France to reach 23% of primary energy form consumption in the long run, with the contribution of wind parks being 25000 MW. At a rate of only 500 MW a year, it will be a very long time until this goal can be reached…. 41 years in fact.
So, while this new and revised law doesn’t give reason to celebrate, at least the fact that concerns have been considered and some of its worst parts have been amended, it offers some hope for the future.