Blog A bureaucratic problem

Wind power in Germany – A bureaucratic problem

Sep 13, 2023 4 min read

1iO Blog

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Chancellor Scholz's ambitious plan to add "four to five wind turbines" daily until 2030 is facing an unexpected hurdle - Germany's bureaucratic permitting process. With thousands of applications backlogged and delays of up to a month and a half, the nation's green energy goals are at risk. 1iO's decentralized ecosystem could revolutionize collaboration, streamline approvals, and accelerate the transition to sustainable energy sources.

The German government wants to accelerate the expansion of wind power. On average, "four to five wind turbines" are to be added on land every day until 2030, said Chancellor Scholz. Progress is to be monitored monthly, he added.

Sounds great, Mr. Scholz! But, there is a problem. A big one, who would have thought. The plan to supply Germany with more green electricity is in danger of failing. And it’s not because of worried neighbors fearing rotor blades might be falling onto their roofs or wind farms visually polluting the environment. It’s a problem of Germany’s bureaucracy.

In order to transport the necessary parts for a wind turbine to their destination, heavy transports are needed, which have to travel over the autobahn. Since the Autobahn is regulated by the states themselves, carriers need a new permit for each state they’re passing through. For example: If parts were to be transported from the port in Rotterdam to Cottbus at the border to Poland, four individual permits would have to be applied for, since the convoy is passing through North-Rhine Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Saxony- Anhalt, and Brandenburg. Now, if the Autobahn cannot be used due to construction sites or dilapidated bridges, rural roads must be used. Here, a separate permit is required for each individual county, and there are many. The bureaucratic overhead is immense and with the digitalization of German authorities still progressing only slowly, it often takes a long time for permits to be issued anyway.

According to an article by the German news broadcaster NDR „[...] it sometimes takes authorities a month and a half to approve an application for a heavy transport“. The Federal Ministry of Transport had confirmed to the "Bild am Sonntag" a "backlog in the processing of applications" for heavy transports in the area from Lower Saxony to Hesse. According to the media report, around 15,000 applications are yet to be reviewed at the regional branch of Autobahn GmbH responsible for Lower Saxony and parts of Hesse. Transporting the components of a single wind turbine would require 150 permits, it said.

At 1iO, we think that this is the perfect example of a problem a decentralized ecosystem could easily solve. The German states and authorities are organized in a decentralized manner, but communication among them, although they do the same things, is poor. With 1iO, we are building the foundation for a blockchain-based ecosystem for more sustainable and better collaboration. Here’s our take on how we think the situation could easily be improved:

Each user in the ecosystem can act either individually, in a group, or both. Groups organize themselves in what we call „COs“. A CO is a virtual room for collaboration running on its own small (local) blockchain so that SmartContracts can be used to automate processes and trust is established between each participant of a CO. A CO is equipped with a peer- to-peer messaging tool, can contain and access all kinds of data using the IPFS-protocol, and could even launch a coin of its own for internal payments and such. If now the carriers, construction site operators and the authorities or private institutions responsible for the autobahn were to organize themselves in COs, data traffic could be handled way easier and - due to the nature of blockchain technology - safer. The best part: most of the process can be automated and the involved parties can thereby save time. COs can easily communicate with each other and access the required intel for applications. Once the data is reviewed (and in order) SmartContracts automatically issue a permit to the carrier. This system is scalable, too, because we build it in an open-source fashion. Developers can easily integrate their own solutions for broader functionalities of the ecosystem.

The problem with German bureaucracy is not only showing its consequences in the expansion of renewable energies. We have committed ourselves to achieving the climate targets and ensuring a more sustainable future for our children. It would be tragic if we fail to achieve these goals because we can't get it right with digitization.
The solutions are at hand. Time to implement them.