A lot of bureaucracy and long procedures hinder the rapid expansion of wind turbines. Especially when it comes to transport, things are now going haywire. Frustration is growing in the industry.

The federal government has set itself the goal of increasing the proportion of electricity consumed from green electricity to 65 percent by 2030. In view of the faltering energy supply from Russia, things should of course be even faster.

The problem, however, is that the new wind turbines get stuck in the approval jungle. Especially when it comes to transporting the ever-growing wind turbines and the cranes that are needed to set them up, things are now going haywire.

60 to 80 individual transports are necessary before a wind turbine can be set up and made to run. Most of these deliveries are heavy transports that have to be approved individually by the federal, state and local authorities along the route. Each individual permit consists of a file with up to 200 pages, in which the route that the transport must take is described with centimeter precision.

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The regulations in the different countries and municipalities contradict each other. In an interview with the WirtschaftsKurier, Helmut Schgeiner, spokesman of the board of the federal specialist group for heavy transport and crane work (BSK), now speaks of “bureaucracy madness”, which is a decisive obstacle to the energy transition. According to the association, the average approval period has now increased from one to three years, which is causing the federal government’s expansion plans to falter.

Schgeiner has many examples to hand: in some federal states, heavy loads can only be driven at night, in others also during the day. The result: the giants of the road get stuck at federal state borders and clog up the parking spaces there. In some places an escort vehicle is needed, in others not. Some municipalities want to know the exact weight down to the kilogram, others don’t. The resulting approval backlog is increasing: Because the approvals are taking longer and longer, transport companies are submitting their applications pro forma earlier and earlier.

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In the end, they pull the right one out of a deck of cards and only use it for one transport, while the administration has checked numerous other applications without any purpose. The number of permits applied for for heavy transport on German roads has therefore grown to around one million a year. The tide can no longer be mastered.

A current guide by the association on transport states that the larger rotor blades of wind turbines alone mean that the total length of heavy transport is around 100 meters. These are dimensions that make it impossible to use narrow motorway exits. As a result, the exits and entrances have to be specially modified. Trees have to be cleared and barriers removed.

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Last but not least, the costs of a wind turbine increase due to more complex transports that require more and more far-reaching permits, which can ultimately make them uneconomical. Schgeiner speaks of six-digit transport costs and urges at least a harmonization of transport regulations within Germany.

The federal states are familiar with the problem and have been developing a digital approval system called Vemags under the leadership of Hesse since 2007. So far, however, there has been no resounding success, the approval procedures are still dragging on – and the energy transition has to wait in the office.