Europe must step up its efforts to increase its renewable energy capacity, reduce its exposure to global energy price volatility, achieve energy independence, and meet its decarbonisation ambitions.
Yet lengthy administrative procedures are a major barrier to permits for renewable energy projects. It is time to speed up the process, and ensure the EU reaches its target of a minimum 40% share of renewables in the energy mix by 2030.
How could the process be accelerated?
Eurelectric has already made several recommendations on this matter in its statement on permitting and its reaction to the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package. This includes the Commission taking a more active approach to monitoring the implementation of permitting rules based on Key Performance Indicators; recognising that RES expansion is a matter of public interest in the context of the energy transition, and putting in place a Technical Support Instrument financed by the EU and directed at addressing Member States’ lack of administrative capacity and human resources.
In addition to those, in our responses to a public consultation on how to improve permitting procedures for renewables projects and facilitate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Eurelectric highlighted the following:
- The rules of the REDII, including the introduction of a one-stop shop to coordinate the permit-granting process, and binding timeframes, must be implemented.
- The digitalisation of permitting should be incentivised.
- The potential for RES deployment in degraded areas and for multi-use of land should be explored.
- The importance of continuous engagement with distribution system operators (DSOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) for further investment in grid infrastructure.
- The prioritisation of RES projects in for instance, advanced stage, located in just transition regions, or providing multiple benefits, should be explored.
Permitting also remains a key barrier for the uptake of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Eurelectric supports the requirement for Member States to promote the uptake of renewable PPAs in REDIII and considers that Member States need to remove national and cross-border obstacles to such arrangements. In addition, the Commission could present best practice on PPAs, to support businesses that find it challenging to commence such cooperation.
Taxation is also important: reducing taxes and levies on electricity will incentivise electrification. Indeed, comparatively high taxes on electricity (compared to other forms of energy) are holding back many potential PPA buyers, constituting a significant barrier for the market and the electric decade itself.
In the case of cross-border PPAs, insufficient tools exist today to hedge the price differential between two countries in the longer term (in some cases driven by different tax regimes). PPAs for RES-H2 could be facilitated for hard-to-electrify sectors, while ensuring an efficient infrastructure development.
Launched by the Commission in January, the consultation will serve as preparation for a guidance document, which is due to be released this summer and is aimed at facilitating the more rapid deployment of renewables in the EU.