On 18 May 2022, the European Commission presented the comprehensive REPowerEU Action Plan for reducing dependence on Russian fossil fuels and facilitating the green transition based on energy saving, diversification of sources and supply routes, infrastructure investments and reforms, and facilitated transition to renewable energy sources.
The HSE Group especially welcomes the ambitious measures for facilitating the acquisition of permits for RES projects, as we have been noting for years that lengthy and complex procedures are one of the key obstacles impeding the siting of RES projects. With the new legislative proposals, the Commission addresses several key obstacles hindering a faster implementation of RES that have been identified by the HSE Group, and puts the construction of power plants that use RES above other public interests until climate neutrality is achieved:
- The Member States must identify the areas required for siting of RES projects that are to be implemented to achieve the set national RES target.
- Priority should be given to multi-purpose use of space, such as co-generation of RES and food production or environmental protection.
- The procedure to obtain permissions can take a maximum of 2 years, and 1 year for upgrades and small units.
- Within these areas, they must identify locations that are particularly suitable for the siting of specific RES technologies (go-to areas) and where adverse environmental effects are not expected.
- Priority should be given to artificial and built surfaces – roofs, parking lots, landfills, industrial areas, coal mines, artificial bodies of water.
- The procedure to obtain permissions can take a maximum of 1 year, and 6 months for upgrades and small units.
- The prescribed deadlines for the issuance of permits also relate to a permit to connect the facility to the grid and an environmental impact assessment.
- Until climate neutrality is achieved, the Member States must ensure that, in the procedure of the issuance of permits, the planning, construction, and operation of power plants that use RES, their connections to the grid, and the connected network and storage facilities are in the overriding public interest and in the interest of public health and security.