Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck has just emphasized it again: he wants to expand wind power more quickly. But it is in his own ministry of all places that the man sits who does not leave a good hair on these plans.
Actually, it is a success story: The expansion of wind energy in Germany has picked up speed again. According to figures from the International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies, a total of 332 new wind turbines were built in Germany in 2022. The figure is the balance of newly built and demolished plants.
Compared to 2021, this is an increase of more than 50 percent. However, that is not enough for the Federal Government’s ambitious climate targets. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has already announced that he will put together a “wind package” to remove bureaucratic obstacles. But the minister has to be careful. He has the opponents of this policy in his own house.
A group that calls itself the “Bundesinitiative Vernunftkraft” (Federal Reasoning Initiative) and claims to bundle and represent numerous local initiatives by wind power opponents, published a press release immediately after Habeck’s announcement, which leaves nothing to be desired in terms of clarity: It is about a “sequence of Procedural simplifications for the wind power industry, which represents an unprecedented violation of Article 20a of the Basic Law to protect our livelihoods”. Environmental protection is “rationalized away”. The fact that wind turbine operators who did not want to afford compensatory measures for species protection could buy their way out of it is “out of the question”.
The explosive thing about this press release is the sender: “Vernunftkraft” is a registered association. Its first chairman is Nicolai Ziegler, who has also appeared in this capacity on television programs such as ARD Monitor. In his main job, however, Ziegler has been a civil servant in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which Habeck has now headed, for more than a decade. He sits there in the “International Economic and Monetary Affairs” department. The minister has, of all things, Germany’s top wind power opponents in his own ranks.
The press office of the ministry relaxed when asked: Volunteer work by employees outside of working hours does not require notification or approval, is the comment that the daily newspaper taz once obtained in 2019, when the contradiction between the private employment of the civil servant and the already line of the Ministry of Economic Affairs valid at the time.
Even then, Ziegler himself did not want to “make any statements about internal government processes”. For him, the separation of professional and club life goes so far that, in his capacity as first chairman of Vernunftkraft, he has already sent an official statement to his ministry on the foreseeable end of coal-fired power generation. Of course, it was very critical.
He has not given up his commitment to the opponents of wind power under his new boss Robert Habeck, although – as has now happened – he wants to give wind power even more impetus than his CDU predecessor Peter Altmaier. On the contrary: under the direction of its first chairman, Ziegler, the federal initiative “Reasonable Strength” is arming the ministry, at least verbally.
In her press release, which dates from this Wednesday, she accuses the ministry of “blatant untruth”. Contrary to what the minister claims, species protection is not being protected, but the expansion of wind power in particular is one of the most profound reasons for the violation of the ban on killing because of the “very high number of victims”. “Habeck accelerates in the dead end” is the current headline on the homepage of the association led by Ziegler.
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The article “A militant wind power opponent of all people is a loyal Habeck official” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.