New analysis: EU country action on renewable acceleration laws is as low as 13%

22 September 2023

  • A new paper from SolarPower Europe evaluates 16 EU countries’ delivery on 8 key areas of improving the paperwork procedure for completing solar energy projects.


  • Halfway through the application period of the EU’s emergency renewable energy law, the analysis reveals that country adoption of EU permitting rules is between 13% and 75%.


  • Belgium (Flanders), Germany, and Portugal perform particularly well, while Bulgaria, Czechia, the Netherlands, and Poland have the lowest rates of implementation.


  • Most countries have made it easier to deliver small-scale solar projects. On the other hand, implementing deadlines for granting permits has seen difficulties across the board, with an implementation rate of only 25%. 

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Friday 21st September 2023): EU countries are continuing to miss the chance to benefit from home-grown, climate-friendly, renewables due to inefficient rules and paperwork. Despite EU laws compelling European states to streamline planning permissions for renewable energy projects, implementation is falling short, and improvements are still needed at national level. 

RES Booster Stocktake

Read the letter

The EU’s emergency law in response to the energy crisis – the RES booster – was adopted nine months ago 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): 


  1. Modernisation and digitalisation of processes and staffing is happening – but too slowly.
  2. Countries aren’t maximising the potential of artificial surfaces. Solar can work in varied built environments, not just rooftops.
  3. Renewables developers still don’t have enough clarity on spatial mapping and ‘acceleration areas’ – the priority places for their projects – that will need to be swiftly designated as part of the RED.

This analysis of national performance is based on 8 key indicators representing a set of planning and permitting measures. For example, most countries have made it easier for people to connect small solar projects to the grid. On another indicator – enshrining permitting deadlines in law – EU countries don’t perform well, achieving only a 25% implementation rate.


A granular analysis of EU Member States shows the first movers and laggards of streamlined renewables bureaucracy. Belgium (Flanders) and Portugal perform particularly well, having implemented 75% of key legislation to speed up renewables planning and permitting processes. Germany is the only country which has fully implemented at least three of eight measures. At the other end of the spectrum; Bulgaria, Czechia, the Netherlands, and Poland have the lowest rates of implementation.*


Jonathan Bonadio, Senior Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe commented: “Permitting is one of the silver bullets of the energy transition. When we get the paperwork and bureaucratic procedures right, solar and renewables will have a true fighting chance. Policymakers know this is a challenge, and we want this stocktake to support their delivery and implementation of climate and energy security targets.”


With this paper, SolarPower Europe has identified 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 Renewable Energy Directive finally enters into force, these should guide Member States’ implementation of the permitting provision. 


*Please note that this analysis applies to the inclusion of these measures in national law rather than the physical implementation on the ground. While there is correlation, it remains a challenge that countries could have well-updated rulebooks but institutions are yet to apply those rules in practice.

Questions? Get in touch.

Bethany Meban
Head of Press and Policy Communications

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