On 22 December 2022, the EU adopted an emergency law to accelerate the roll out of renewable energy, as a response to the energy crisis. Intended to run for 18 months, the Regulation bridges the gap until the next chapter of EU renewable project permitting rules - the updated Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
Halfway through the RES Booster's lifetime, and ahead of RED implementation, SolarPower Europe has taken stock of where 16 EU member states are performing best - or not - on eight specific aspects of relevant permitting law. The paper identifies the do’s and don’ts of implementing permitting law, drawing on the real world examples of well-performing states and the cautionary tales of the countries that risk falling behind. As the RED finally enters into force, these should guide Member States’ implementation of the permitting provision.
Please note: this analysis applies to the inclusion of these measures in national law rather than the physical implementation on the ground.
The EU’s emergency law in response to the energy crisis – the RES booster – was adopted to accelerate the deployment of renewables. With nine-months left in the law’s lifetime, there are already some upgrades in national permitting frameworks, thanks to political will and creative best practices.
However, key issues are still outstanding under the RES booster. Project developers are also wary of trouble ahead in the next chapter of EU permitting rules – the updated Renewable Energy Directive (RED):
Modernisation & Digitalisation
Modernisation of the administration, digitalisation and streamlining of processes or staffing and training of administrative staff is happening too slowly. This has direct consequences on permitting deadlines, and could lead the EU in not meeting the deadlines required by the RED. More direct monitoring of the performance of member states, together with capacity building actions, are urgently needed.
Maximising Artificial Surfaces
Countries aren’t maximising the potential of artificial surfaces. Solar can work in varied built environments, not just rooftops. Member states succeed most in implementing simplified processes for rooftop PV, as well as simplified grid connection. But the scale of ambition falls short compared to what is required by the energy crisis: while the provisions on simplified permitting should apply to all PV on artificial land, they are often limited only to rooftops. While simple notification grid connection could be applied to all assets under 50 kW, they are often limited to 10.8 kW or below.
Improving Spatial Planning
Implementation of acceleration areas can make or break renewables permitting. The implementation of the provisions in some member states has lead to unnecessarily complex and burdensome processes. There are cases where legislation intended to streamline administrative processes actually increases uncertainty on project development, by leaving the decision on a case-by-case basis. Altogether this might slow down the deployment of renewables, against the EU REPowerEU objective. The energy transition needs EU-level guidance to create and mainstream a harmonised definition of acceleration areas.