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EU Commission presents new recommendations to accelerate renewables roll-out

Almost two years after the adoption of the REPowerEU Plan, the European Commission is providing additional support to Member States to further accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and reduce Russian fossil fuel imports.

The Commission has adopted a series of new and updated recommendations and guidance documents to improve and streamline permitting procedures and auctions for renewables. These documents will help to implement the EU framework for renewable energy by improving the conditions for rapid deployment of home-grown renewable energy. By boosting demand for clean technologies made in Europe, this initiative will also help reinforce industrial competitiveness, increase the resilience of the energy system, and deliver on the European Green Deal.

“Renewable energy is key to achieving the decarbonisation of European industry,” said Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight. “It also represents an economic opportunity for Europe in its own right, building on our existing global leadership in a number of key technologies. With today’s initiative, we are helping European businesses to speed up their investments in renewables and increase their roll-out across Europe. Thanks to the introduction of non-price criteria in auctions, we are giving our industry a chance to prosper at home and compete on a level playing field.”

“Increased predictability and faster permitting are key to sending the right investment signals across the renewable energy value chain,” added Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy. “Today’s guidance from the Commission will help Member States to accelerate the deployment of renewables. As we approach two years since the adoption of the REPowerEU Plan, it is important to give this extra boost to homegrown clean energy sources, to allow us to replace even more Russian fossil fuels.”

First of all, in the updated Recommendation on speeding up permit-granting procedures and its accompanying guidance, the Commission highlighted ways to improve planning and permitting procedures for renewable energy and related infrastructure projects in the EU, focusing on the importance of digitalisation and community participation, human resources and skills.

The Commission has also adopted a further guidance document on designating renewables acceleration areas. Under the revised Renewable Energy Directive, these are locations where the deployment of renewable energy projects is not expected to have significant environmental impacts and the necessary procedures are therefore fast-tracked to ensure quick deployment of specific technologies. Key elements for selecting such areas are the availability of digital tools for planning and mapping and data on the renewable energy capacity and on the potential environmental impact.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe recalled how solar energy delivered for Europe with record deployment, supported by the EU Solar Strategy, to get the continent off Russian gas.

“These new actions are timely, to remind EU leaders not to take solar records for granted, and facilitate further growth,” she said. “The acceleration of permitting, and the involvement of local communities, are two prerequisites to reach our REPowerEU targets. It is therefore good to see the Commission’s recommendation for prioritising renewables and infrastructure in permitting while reinforcing citizens’ engagement. The Commission is also providing much-needed guidance on mapping and acceleration areas, which aligns well with SolarPower Europe’s Guidance on the topic.”

Leveraging public auctions for resilience and sustainability is a good way of rewarding companies beyond price-only. These criteria, however, need to be precise and technology-specific. We stand ready to provide details on what clear and practical rules for solar auctions look like.”

Secondly, recognising that auctions play a key role in the roll-out of renewable energy, the Commission’s recommendation and guidance will make these procedures more harmonised and efficient, in line with the Net-Zero Industry Act. The Recommendation and accompanying Guidance document will help Member States to design auctions that take into consideration objectives such as quality, contribution to resilience and environmental sustainability. The use of non-price criteria will allow higher value-added projects to be rewarded.

Finally, to further enhance visibility and predictability for investors across the whole renewables value chain, the Commission has also updated today the Union Renewables Development Platform, an online system where Member States will publish basic information about their auction schedules. This information should include the timing and frequency of the auctions, the auctioned capacity, the planned budget and the eligible technologies – as required by the Renewable Energy Directive.

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