If you want to quickly pull something new up in Germany, you have to take the risk of an Elon Musk. Otherwise, the approval for the construction of new factory buildings, plants or railway tracks takes many years. Germany has become old and rusty.
One of my companies near Heilbronn would like to build a solar system on a 1600 square meter peripheral area of the company property. Much more would be possible in terms of area, but the project planner advised us against that.
Somewhere, someone has created a magic line where solar systems are considered so big that they need outside experts and special certificates for approval. But these experts obviously have a lot to do.
A large solar system could therefore only go into operation in three years. At earliest.
In Berlin we are planning a biogas plant that could replace Putin’s natural gas to some extent with biowaste. The approval process has now been going on for three years. In the meantime, however, the laws on immission control have changed.
The project is now in jeopardy again. Something similar happened to us at a plant in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania for energy and fertilizer production, including at recycling plants.
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Equally devastating for German energy security is the death of approval, which many wind farm projects have been dying for years. According to the German Wind Energy Association, it takes an average of 4 to 5 years for a wind energy project to be planned and approved.
And then the wind farm isn’t even built yet. That’s not going to happen with the energy transition.
The jumble of laws, ordinances, decrees and authorities for a building permit is now excessive. How biogas, wind and solar energy will ever secure Germany’s energy supply remains more than questionable.
dr Eric Schweitzer is the owner and CEO of the Berlin ALBA Group, one of the leading environmental service providers and suppliers of raw materials in Europe with an annual turnover of around 1.3 billion euros and 5400 employees. ALBA is also the name sponsor of the current German basketball champions. Schweitzer was President of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) from 2013 to 2021 and has been Honorary President of the DIHK and the IHK Berlin since 2021.
It doesn’t help that all Germans are happy to separate their rubbish, but it then takes the administration five years to approve a new recycling plant.
It doesn’t get us anywhere if the traffic light, according to the coalition agreement, wants to promote “the circular economy as effective protection of the climate and resources” and as an “opportunity for sustainable economic development”, and then doesn’t straighten out the confusion of laws and regulations in building law.
We cannot save CO2 if the systems are slowed down by the approval authorities. Robert Habeck’s commitment to the planned LNG terminals is just a drop in the bucket.
It’s nice that things are going a little faster in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel, but 99.9 percent of the procedures in Germany get stuck and get stuck. Here the Federal Minister of Economics cannot rush to help everywhere.
Even Elon Musk has already felt the full force of the German bureaucracy: The construction of the Tesla factory ran from December 2019 without a building permit. Elon Musk built his plant on preliminary permits.
Full risk to save time: Had he not received final approval for the Gigafactory, Musk would have had to dismantle his factory and restore the site to its original state.
And: Because Tesla had added a battery factory to an application for approval of the car forge, the building application had to be publicly displayed again. The German approval law set the approval procedure back to zero. Not only Elon Musk was amazed.
So it’s no wonder: According to surveys, the biggest bureaucratic annoyance for companies is by far the construction law. 16 different state building regulations are driving many entrepreneurs to the brink of madness.
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“We tied ourselves up with a lot of bureaucracy,” said Federal Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner at the beginning of the year. That’s right.
The BDI has calculated that if an approval procedure in industry required an average of two expert opinions 15 years ago, today it is five to ten. Our country can no longer modernize itself. Germany is rusting away.
These four points alone could massively accelerate the approval process:
It is now up to the traffic light to loosen the shackles of German bureaucracy instead of just stating them. There are enough proposals from business associations such as the DIHK. Own wanted to submit the traffic light in the first half of the year. She didn’t do this.
A “progress coalition” wanted to be the traffic light. She still has to prove that.