On Wednesday 14th December, the European Parliament voted in favour of targeted amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive to accelerate and streamline permit-granting procedures for renewable energy projects. The adopted text will constitute the Parliament’s starting position in the upcoming trilogue negotiations with the Council and the Commission. The Council agreed on its position (General Approach) during the meeting of the energy ministers on 19th December.
These targeted amendments were put forward by the European Commission in May 2022 as part of REPowerEU, together with the proposals to raise the EU overall targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency and introduce a solar rooftop obligation in the EPBD.
Given the advanced status of the negotiations on the Renewable Energy Directive, the Parliament decided to treat these targeted amendments on permitting as a separate file, which will then feed into the overall revision of the Directive during the ongoing Trilogue.
At the same time, in November the Commission also proposed a Council Regulation on accelerating permitting procedures for renewables, which was agreed on by energy ministers on 24th November. The Council Regulation was motivated by the need for urgent actions; it introduces temporary measures, while the co-legislators agree on the revised text of the Renewable Energy Directive.
As a result, the text adopted by the Parliament last week includes the articles proposed by the Commission in May, but it also integrates the provisions of the Council Regulation adopted in November.
Main elements of EP position
The key elements of the Parliament’s position are:
- The introduction of Renewable Acceleration Areas (RAAs), initially called renewable go-to areas in the Commission’s proposal, are prioritized as particularly suitable for the accelerated installation of renewable energy plants. The Member States shall designate a list of RAAs by two years after the entry into force of the Directive, and then update this list on an ongoing basis. In these areas, the permit-granting process shall not exceed 9 months for new projects (18 months outside of RAAs) and 6 months for the repowering of plants.
- The definition of renewable energy projects as being in the overriding public interest and serving public health and safety, which allows for streamlined permitting processes and some specific exemptions from EU environmental rules.
- A new article (16c) specifically dedicated to permit-granting processes for the installation of solar energy equipment in artificial structures, similar to the one included in the Council Regulation adopted in November. Permitting for the installation of solar energy equipment, including energy storage assets, shall not exceed one month, while a simple-notification procedure should apply for installations below 50kW. Importantly, the text explicitly mentions that solar energy equipment refers to both solar thermal and solar photovoltaic.