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The European Parliament, the EU Council, and the European Commission reached a provisional agreement on the amendment of the 2018 EU Renewables Directive after 18 months of political talks. They settled on raising the 2030 EU renewable energy target to 42.5%. Importantly, the Institutions accepted more steps than the EU has previously for the streamlining of renewable energy permits.
The largest barrier to implementing wind at scale is still permitting. Around 80 GW of wind generation capacity, of which at least 59 GW are onshore, are now stalled in regulatory processes throughout Europe. In some nations, it might take up to nine years to grant a permit for a single project. The EU only installed 16 GW of new wind last year, despite the fact that it will require 31 GW year on average until 2030 to reach its goals. This is incompatible with the EU’s aspirations for the climate and energy sectors.
The need to release the pipelines for wind energy projects has been recognised by policymakers. The Emergency permission Measures from 2022 along with the EU Recommendations and Guidance on Permit Simplification to Governments were a promising start in hastening permission. These guidelines are expanded upon in the amended EU Renewables Directive.
The two-year cap on new projects and the one-year cap on repowering projects, both of which require a permit from the government, remain in place. The novelty, though, is that the updated Renewables Directive makes it clearer which specific permits must be issued within these deadlines.
The Environmental Impact Assessment, grid connection permissions, and all administrative requirements are specifically listed. The Directive also adds “renewables acceleration areas” that Member States must establish where permits will be granted even more quickly — in just a year for new projects and in just six months for repowering projects. These acceleration regions have already been set forth by numerous Member States, including Germany, Spain, and Portugal.
Additionally, “overriding public interest” will now be applied to renewable energy sources. This will assist in addressing the legal issues that frequently cause renewable energy construction to be delayed. The concept has already allowed wind energy projects in Germany that were bogged down in legal disputes to move forward. The new EU regulations aim to achieve a good working balance between the use of renewable energy and other societal concerns, such biodiversity, across all of Europe.