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Energy

Enabling framework for renewables

To simplify permitting processes for renewable energy projects, facilitate power purchase agreements and empower citizens.

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Permitting processes

In some EU countries, permitting processes can be an obstacle to renewable energy projects in general. To address the issue, the revised Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001/EU) includes provisions that simplify permitting processes. This will help setting in motion renewable energy projects, while taking into account legitimate concerns of citizens and respecting environmental standards.

The Commission proposes a series of measures in its Communication “REPowerEU: Joint EU action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy”, published on 8 March 2022, and in the REPowerEU plan of 18 May 2022, to respond to the rising energy prices and to shed the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels. To further accelerate renewable energy projects and remove remaining administrative obstacles, the Commission published a recommendation on speeding up permit-granting procedures for renewable energy projects and a proposal for a targeted amendment of the Renewable Energy Directive.

To gather relevant inputs from stakeholders, the Commission contracted a study and launched a call for evidence and a public consultation in the first quarter of 2022. The interim report for the “RES Simplify” study provides a comprehensive overview of the barriers and good practices related to permit-granting identified in EU countries, Norway and Iceland. The final RES Simplify report is expected by April 2023.

The European Council called on 20-21 October for the fast-tracking of permitting procedures to accelerate the rollout of renewables. On 9 November 2022, the Commission proposed a new temporary emergency regulation, based on Article 122 of the Treaty, to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy sources. The proposal complements previous emergency measures to tackle the exceptional situation on the energy markets and to accelerate the clean energy transition.

Workshops

To further support EU countries, the Commission organised a first workshop on permit-granting processes for renewable energy projects in June 2022. Around 100 high-level officials from ministries of environment and energy, related agencies from almost all EU countries and officials from several European Commission Directorate-Generals attended it and provided an opportunity to discuss challenges and solutions at national, regional and local levels for streamlining permit-granting procedures, improving site selection and minimising environmental impacts.

A second workshop was organised on 17 November 2022 to discuss the options that EU countries have to deploy renewable energy projects quickly, while ensuring public acceptance at the same time. In parallel, administrative barriers to faster permitting of renewable energy projects have also been discussed in the Single Market Enforcement Task Force throughout 2022.

Power purchase agreements

Renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) – direct contracts between corporate companies and electricity suppliers – are expected to become a major driver for more market-based renewables deployment in the coming years. However, the take-up of this concept has been much slower than expected.

The planned guidance on permit-granting processes and PPAs will provide recommendations on how best to facilitate power purchase agreements.

Renewable energy communities

The revised Renewable Energy Directive places a strong emphasis on citizens to make it easier for them to consume and produce renewable energy.

By introducing provisions on renewable energy communities, the directive gives citizens the possibility to jointly engage in renewable energy projects. Empowering citizens in the clean energy transition may also help increase the local acceptance of renewable energy projects.

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