Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) called for courage in the expansion of renewable energies when visiting a wind farm in the Eifel on Tuesday. He referred to federal and state laws that would bring further acceleration. “What is then still necessary is courage at all levels. Then you can use the laws quickly,” said Scholz. The Chancellor was with North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) in the wind farm in Simmerath. The 22 wind turbines, which are up to 196 meters high, are located in the community’s own forest area and bring in millions of euros to the Eifel municipality every year.

In contrast to other locations, there were no major reservations about the wind turbines here, said the managing director of the Aachen energy company Stawag, Frank Brösse, to the chancellor. “Right from the start we had a high level of acceptance among the citizens of Simmerath”. The town of 15,800 levies lower property and trade taxes, partly because of the income from the citizens’ wind farm. In other places, however, there is still no wind turbine after eleven years of planning, Brösse complained.

Always new hurdles

Scholz also met with citizens, forest owners and employees of the forest administration. He heard from them that they had numerous reservations about the expansion: from Eifel hikers to astrophysicists who feared for the accuracy of their devices. There are always new aspects that hinder the expansion. Around noon, Scholz drove on to Düren to meet representatives of municipalities in the lignite area.

Prime Minister Wüst said that a total of 178 wind turbines were approved in NRW this year. As an industrial country, NRW is a major energy consumer and wants to do something for it itself, said Wüst.

The mayor of Simmerath, Bernd Goffart (CDU), called for faster decision-making processes at the meeting. “In all areas we need too long.” The citizens’ wind farm produces 184 percent of Simmerath’s electricity needs from renewable sources. According to Goffart, the fact that the community earns money has contributed to the acceptance of the giants in the forest.