EU countries are continuing to miss the chance to benefit from home-grown, climate-friendly, renewables due to inefficient rules and paperwork, says a new paper from Brussels-based association SolarPower Europe.
The EU’s emergency law in response to the energy crisis was adopted nine months ago to accelerate the deployment of renewables. SolarPower Europe has noticed some upgrades in national permitting frameworks, thanks to political will and creative best practices. However, key issues are still outstanding. For example, modernisation and digitalisation of processes and staffing is happening, but too slowly. Countries aren’t maximising the potential of artificial surfaces, as solar can work in varied built environments, not just rooftops. And, renewables developers still don’t have enough clarity on spatial mapping and acceleration areas that will need to be swiftly designated as part of the RED.
This analysis presented by SolarPower Europe is based on 8 key indicators representing a set of planning and permitting measures. For example, most countries have made it easier for people to connect small solar projects to the grid. On another indicator – enshrining permitting deadlines in law – EU countries don’t perform well, achieving only a 25 per cent implementation rate.
A granular analysis of EU Member States shows the first movers and laggards of streamlined renewables bureaucracy. Belgium and Portugal perform particularly well, having implemented 75 per cent of key legislation to speed up renewables planning and permitting processes. Germany is the only country which has fully implemented at least three of eight measures. At the other end of the spectrum, we see countries from Central and Eastern Europe, like Bulgaria, Czechia and Poland, which have the lowest rates of implementation.
“Permitting is one of the silver bullets of the energy transition,” said Jonathan Bonadio, Senior Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe. “When we get the paperwork and bureaucratic procedures right, solar and renewables will have a true fighting chance. Policymakers know this is a challenge and we want this stocktake to support their delivery and implementation of climate and energy security targets.”
With this paper, SolarPower Europe has identified the do’s and don’ts of implementing permitting law, drawing on the real-world examples of well-performing states and the cautionary tales of the countries that risk falling behind. As the Renewable Energy Directive finally enters into force, these should guide Member States’ implementation of the permitting provision.