The European Union has set ambitious targets for the development of renewable energy sources, aiming to reach 32% of total energy consumption by 2030. Furthermore, energy from from renewable sources can reduce the EU’s demand for fossil fuels and thanks to their low operational costs, more renewables in the EU’s energy system can lower energy prices. To achieve this goal, a significant increase in the deployment of renewable energy projects is necessary. However, the permit-granting process for these projects can be lengthy and complex, often involving multiple agencies and levels of government.
To address this issue, the European Council has adopted a regulation establishing a temporary framework to accelerate the permit-granting process for renewable energy projects. The regulation applies to all EU member states and covers a wide range of renewable energy technologies, including solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower.
Under the temporary framework established by the Council Regulation, member states are required to ensure that the permit granting process for renewable energy projects is completed within certain time limits. These maximum time limits are as follows:
- a deadline of one monthfor the installation of heat pumps below 50MW and three months in case of ground source heat pumps;
- a deadline of three months permit-granting process for the installation of solar energy equipment and co-located energy storage assets,
- a deadline of six monthsfor the permit-granting process for repowering projects including all relevant environmental assessments. Where repowering results in an increase of up to 15 % in the capacity of the power plant, grid connections will be permitted within three months.
Presumption of overriding public interest
The planning, construction and operation of plants and installations for the production of energy from renewable sources, and their connection to the grid, the related grid itself and storage assets is presumed to be in the overriding public interest and serving public health and safety when balancing legal interests in the individual case.
Projects which are recognised as being of overriding public interest are given priority when balancing legal interests in the individual case during the planning and permit-granting process, the construction and operation of plants and installations for the production of energy from renewable sources and the related grid infrastructure development are given priority when balancing legal interests in the individual case.
The regulation is valid for a period of 18 months from its entry into force.
Overall, the regulation represent a positive step towards meeting the EU’s renewable energy targets and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy. It will help to remove barriers to the development of renewable energy projects, encourage the growth of this important sector and hopfully soone have an impact on the market energy prices.