Expediting renewable energy development in Europe

[Translate to English:] Gute Lösungen für den Ausbau erneuerbarer Energien

Renewable energy development is essential for achieving climate targets, and high-quality solutions to many of the barriers to renewables expansion are already available. This is the conclusion drawn in a new study conducted by the Oeko-Institut, eclareon, WindEurope and SolarPower Europe on behalf of the European Commission. The purpose of the study, which showcases best practice examples from across Europe, is to streamline and expedite administrative and permit-granting procedures for renewable energy projects in the EU member states.

Due to a steady decrease in the costs of renewable energies over the years, the financing of installations is not the main obstacle. A larger problem is identifying suitable sites and obtaining permission for the construction and operation of the plants. Permit-granting procedures are often far too complex, project developers face challenging administrative barriers, and competent authorities lack sufficient capacities to process applications. Local residents’ and other stakeholders’ concerns and objections can also lead to significant delays.

Facilitative institutions such as One Stop Shops can play a key role here. A One Stop Shop is a single contact point which streamlines permit-granting procedures for project developers and other stakeholders. It centralises processes on a single platform and increases their efficiency and transparency.

Public participation, centralised environmental impact assessments

If the public has a clear window of opportunity in which to participate in planning processes, there is likely to be less local opposition. Once this window has closed and permission has been granted, there should be no further scope for it to be legally contested. Financial participation of municipalities where larger installations are to be constructed is also a sensible approach. Allowing citizens to benefit from projects, e.g. in the form of investment in infrastructure or provision of social services, may increase acceptance, according to the study.

Conflicts often arise between environmental/nature conservation and construction of new renewable energy installations, and environmental impact assessments are time-consuming and costly. Here, the researchers recommend performing the necessary studies for larger sites on a centralised basis as far as possible and making the findings publicly available. The data would then be available on a single platform and there would be no need for stand-alone or, indeed, multiple assessments.

Repowering can help increase the renewable energy share: here, existing wind energy installations are replaced by more efficient plants with higher capacity. This currently requires a comprehensive new permit-granting process in many countries, although assessing the changes compared to the status quo would be sufficient.

Study: Technical support for RES policy development and implementation – Simplification of permission and administrative procedures for RES installations (RES Simplify), by the Oeko-Institut, eclareon, WindEurope and SolarPower Europe