Renewable Energy Directive IV & Council Regulation on permitting

Renewable Energy Directive IV & Council Regulation on permitting

On 9 November, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a Council Regulation on a framework to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, which was agreed upon by EU energy ministers during the Extraordinary Council meeting on Thursday 24 November.

The Regulation falls under article 122 TFEU, which requires the adoption by the Council only and is designed for addressing emergency interventions through urgent and temporary measures. Over the last months, the same article was used several times by the Commission to tackle the ongoing energy crisis.

The Regulation will apply for 18 months and may be renewed. It has four main elements:

  • New renewable energy projects are defined as being of overriding public interest and therefore eligible for simplified permitting procedures.
  • Permitting should not exceed three months for solar energy installations (solar thermal and solar PV) whose primary aim is not energy production; furthermore, ‘positive administrative silence’ would be applied to self-consumers’ solar installations below 50 kW, meaning that the permit would be considered granted after one month if no answer was provided by the relevant authority.
  • The permit-granting process for repowering (renewal or upgrading) would be capped at 6 months; for an increased capacity of a maximum of 15%, the permitting for the connection to the grid shall not exceed three months.
  • The permitting for the installation of heat pumps below 50MW shall not exceed 1 month (3 months for ground source heat pumps) and the connection to the grid shall be automatically granted for heat pumps up to 12 kW (50 kW for self-consumers generating renewable energy covering at least 60% of the capacity of the heat pump).

In the current context, accelerating the deployment of renewable energy installations by streamlining permitting procedures has become a priority for EU policymakers. In 2022, the European Commission has already launched other actions in this sense, including targeted amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive on streamlining permit-granting for renewable energy projects. These amendments were proposed last May as part of the REPowerEU plan and are currently being discussed in the ongoing RED revision. The two initiatives partially overlap, but the proposed Council Regulation responds to the need for immediate action urged by the energy crisis.

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