The federal cabinet has adopted a progress report on radio navigation. The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action agreed on 5 April 2022 on a comprehensive package of measures in the field of omnidirectional radio beacons and weather radar stations with a view to quickly opening up more sites for onshore wind energy. The bulk of the nine measures agreed in April regarding radio navigation have been successfully implemented. Today’s cabinet report describes the progress made. The report is produced on the basis of section 99a of the 2021 Renewable Energy Sources Act, which provides that the Federal Government must present a radio navigation report to the Bundestag by 31 December of each year.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck said, “The work we have done together over the last few months has paid off. Thanks to joint work by all the stakeholders in the ministries, the Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services, DFS (German air traffic control) and scientific backing from the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB), almost all measures agreed in April have been successfully implemented before the end of the year. And these measures truly bring us forward: in particular, the halving of the distance to protect omnidirectional radio beacons from 15 to 7 kilometres frees up sites for wind energy. This means it will be possible to approve and construct an additional 4 - 5 GW of onshore wind capacity. Assuming 4 - 5 MW per new turbine, that corresponds to more than 1,000 new wind turbines. Or, to put it another way: 5 GW generates roughly enough power to cover the city of Berlin’s annual consumption. This is an important boost to the roll-out of onshore wind energy.”

Dr Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital and Transport, added: We need to utilise all available resources to expand renewable energy. As we do so, we need to reassess obsolete standards and adapt them to current findings. I am glad that new, scientifically tested protected areas mean that we can now provide more sites for the expansion of wind energy, and can also cut the amount of red tape involved in approving new turbines. This approach is a blueprint for many other policy fields where obsolete rules are impeding us from making best use of our resources.”

The Transport Ministry, the Economic Affairs Ministry and DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH had launched a package of nine measures to improve the compatibility of the needs of onshore wind energy and the needs of radio navigation facilities on 5 April 2022. In 2022 alone, the Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services has approved all 41 applications to construct a total of 119 wind turbines in protected areas around omnidirectional radio beacons.

The aim is to safeguard the smooth operation of flight safety equipment whilst providing more sites for onshore wind.
Germany’s National Metrology Institute has provided important scientific backing for this.

The specific measures are:

  1. Protected areas are reduced around DVOR omnidirectional radio beacons (DVOR stands for Doppler Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range)
    As of 24 November 2022, the protected area around 39 of the 40 DVORs is reduced from a radius of 15 to 7 km. This means that, in total, the protected areas around these beacons are reduced by around 19,000 km2, or roughly 75%.
  2. Dismantling and rebuilding omnidirectional radio beacons
    At present, 52 omnidirectional radio beacons are in operation. 19 of these are currently scheduled for decommissioning by 2030. At other sites, the DFS will be replacing eight older and less reliable beacons with modern, more reliable beacons, with financial support from the Economic Affairs and Climate Ministry.
  3. New calculation formula for CVOR beacons (CVOR stands for Conventional Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range).
    The DFS and PTB developed a new formula which permits more precise predictions of potential interference from wind turbines.
  4. Increase in the permissible bearing error for radio navigation equipment
    On 1 August 2022, the permitted bearing error due to onshore wind turbines was increased from 3° to 3.6° for approval procedures. The DFS has been using the new limit in approval procedures since that date.
  5. Further increase in the available error budget
    The available error budget for external influences was increased from 0.5° to 1° on 1 August 2022. Taken together with the 0.6° increase in the permissible bearing error, the error budget rises by a total of 1.1° for DVORs and by 0.6° for CVORs. These measures are likely to make it possible to approve many more wind turbines in protected areas around omnidirectional radio beacons.

You can find the cabinet report (in German) here.