Round Table in Gernsbach: Discussion about Wind Turbines in the Murg valley
The timber industry in the Murg valley has a long-standing tradition and there are still a number of paper-producing companies here today. The paper industry is an energy-intensive industry, which is why the development of energy prices in the last two years has led to massive challenges. The paper and pulp industry is therefore calling for locally generated green electricity to secure jobs in the Murg valley in the long term.
Politicians See the Need for Action
At the end of October, representatives from politics, organizations and industry met at the invitation of the Wirtschaftsverband Papier Baden-Württemberg - WVP - e. V. (Baden-Württemberg Paper Business Association) at the papermaking center in the city of Gernsbach to discuss the need for wind power in the Murg valley. Gabriele Katzmarek, SPD member of the Bundestag and member of the Committee for Economic Affairs and Energy since 2014, was the initiator who presented the political viewpoint of the industry transformation. She emphasized that the paper and pulp industry cannot escape a fundamental transformation. Only the companies that identify and pursue clear strategies of decarbonization of power supply will be successful in the long term. She added that it now lies with politicians to ensure that leased land is available to all parties at reasonable prices in order to give companies in the industry the option of generating their own energy at their sites. Katzmarek also pleaded that greater consideration should be paid to alleged “soft” factors such as regional value creation when allocating land. This would ensure that the industry can be supplied with local green energy.
Paper and Pulp Industry Calling for Affordable Lease Prices for Wind Turbine Use
Representatives from the local paper and pulp industry also illustrated the need to take advantage of locally available green energy to remain competitive in international competition. Representatives of the Koehler Group, which includes KATZ in Weisenbach (Murg valley), were also present at the round table to point out challenges for the industry. The family company already founded the subsidiary Koehler Renewable Energy over 10 years ago and has been investing in the production of renewable energy ever since. The Koehler Group is currently experiencing that the industry no longer has any chance of being allocated land for wind power purposes. Koehler Renewable Energy company officer Nicolas Christoph pointed out: “Large project planning companies are currently offering leases for plots of land that, given the current cost of turbines and financing interest rates, are making it virtually impossible to operate the plants economically, not to mention providing affordable energy prices in the long term for regional industry.” This contradicts the stated aims of the German Federal Government. According to Christoph, local politicians and community representatives often choose the highest bidder without taking into account the needs of the local industry, relying on the argument that they have to give the contract to the highest bidder because of their obligations to budget law – although numerous jobs not only in the Murg valley directly or indirectly depend on the paper and pulp industry.