Warning lights to be used only when needed

There have been numerous complaints by local residents about the flashing red lights that illuminate wind turbines at night. The Federal Cabinet has decided to change the relevant administrative rules to make it possible for the warning lights to be used only when needed.

Wind turbines with warning lights glowing in the dark© BMWi / Holger Vonderlind

These aviation warning lights in question are visible from large distances. Across wide swathes of Germany, however, there is no need for these red signals to be activated at night, as aviation is banned or does not happen. This would mean that the lights could be deactivated and remain deactivated for more than 90% of the time.

On 20 May 2015, the Federal Government approved a legislative proposal to have the lights activated at night time only on-demand. This means that, provided wind farms have the necessary technical equipment, warning lights will only flash when an aeroplane is approaching. In addition to this, the proposal seeks to protect residents from light pollution by providing for the introduction of a new type of lamp that reduces the amount of stray light. It is hoped that this will also help raise acceptance levels of onshore wind turbines.

The decision was taken following several years of campaigning by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, and the wind energy sector, which had all been calling for a reform of the warning lights system for wind farms.

In order for the changes to the administrative rules to enter into force, they have to be approved by the Bundesrat, the legislative representation of the 16 German states.

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