Energy crisis: MEPs back plans to boost the deployment of renewables

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


  • Faster procedures to issue permits for renewable energy installations
  • A boost for the EU’s domestic production amid energy crisis
  • Scheme will reduce dependence on fossil fuels imported from Russia

The proposal would accelerate the procedure to grant permits for new renewable energy power plants, such as solar panels or windmills, or to adapt existing ones.

In their amendments to the Commission proposal, MEPs in the Industry, Energy and Research Committee shortened the maximum period to approve new installations from twelve to nine months, if located in the so-called “renewables acceleration areas”. These will be marked out by each member state depending on whether they are able to install renewables at a faster pace. If the competent authority does not respond by the deadline, the permit or request is deemed to be approved – following the so-called “positive silence” principle.

Outside such areas, the process should not exceed 18 months, MEPs say, – and not two years as originally proposed.

The new permit-granting process would cover all administrative steps to build, repower and operate plants for the production of renewable energy, including hybrid power plants. It would also cover storage, connection to the grid and the integration of renewables into heating and cooling networks.

Member states should also back the testing of innovative renewable energy technologies, where the procedure for getting a permit should be at least as fast as those in renewable acceleration areas, MEPs say.

Repower existing installations

On repowering existing renewable energy plants, MEPs want the permit-granting process to not exceed six months for repowering projects in renewables acceleration areas, and one year outside of them. As repowering can reduce the need to designate new sites, projects could also benefit from existing grid connections, a likely higher degree of acceptance from the public and knowledge of environmental impacts.

Boost solar panels equipment on buildings

The proposal also includes an obligation for EU countries to ensure that permits to install solar energy equipment on buildings are delivered within three months. For smaller installations below 50kW, a simple notification procedure would be enough. Installing solar equipment would be exempt from the requirement to conduct an environmental impact assessment, MEPs agreed.

Quote

“Today, we have laid the foundation for permanently faster processes to issue permits thereby accelerating the deployment of renewable energies and thus boosting the energy transition. We introduced some new measures giving member states and their authorising authorities more leeway, such as the principle of ‘Positive silence’ within renewables acceleration areas, on the understanding that renewable energy projects are of overriding public interest and can benefit from simplified assessment for specific derogations in EU environmental legislation”, said lead MEP Markus Pieper (EPP, DE).

“We also targeted and boosted some specific technologies, such as solar or wind power, as these are some of the cheapest sources of electricity and can be deployed rapidly to benefit citizens and businesses and to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and ensure security of supply”, he added.

Next steps

The draft report was adopted by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee by 49 votes to 3, with 8 abstentions. It will be put to a vote by the full House during a forthcoming plenary session.

Background

The draft legislation was tabled by the Commission as part of the RepowerEU package, which aims to cut European dependence on fossil fuel imports from Russia, following its aggression of Ukraine. It will amend the Renewable Energy, the Energy Efficiency and the Energy Performance of Buildings directives, on which separate revisions are ongoing as part of the “Fit for 55” package.

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