The Commission proposes to increase the European target for RES. for 2030 at 45% (from 40%). Among the actions announced in this direction is the strategy for solar energy with emphasis on buildings. The Commission’s targets for photovoltaics are to install 320 GWac (400 GWp) by 2025 and around 600 GWac (740 GWp) by 2030.
To this end, the Commission has submitted a new legislative proposal to speed up licensing procedures, which will be incorporated into the ongoing revision of the RES Directive. The new legislation includes three important areas:
- Affirms the principle that renewables serve the overriding public interest. This means that each case of their installation must be weighed and proceeded as a matter of priority, during the current energy crisis and until climate neutrality is achieved.
- Obliges Member States to identify, following a strategic environmental assessment, wider areas where RES. will be allowed from the beginning. Investments in these areas should be able to start construction within one year of their request.
This is a significant change in the basis of the debate. Until now, the usual conservative approach has been to define only exclusion zones where it is forbidden to apply and study for a project, while in any other location outside these zones the investor must follow the lengthy licensing process. Zones must now be defined where applications for RES. will not be rejected for licensing reasons, and the details and conditions of their installation will be determined in less than one year.
- Repeats the obligation in the other areas the RES. to be licensed within 2 years and clarifies that within this period a final decision must be issued on all licenses required for the construction of an investment.
In parallel with the proposal for new legislation, the Commission has published detailed instructions to the Member States on how to simplify licensing rules and procedures. These guidelines outline best licensing practices across Europe. The following is a summary:
- Recognition of RES projects as a supreme public interest
Adopt a population-based approach to biodiversity protection
- With a single strategic environmental assessment, identification of areas where renewables are allowed from the beginning and go more quickly (go-to areas)
- Application of the principle of “tacit approval”: when an authority does not comment within a time limit, it is considered to accept the application and approve the authorization
- Single contact point for all licensing procedures (One-stop-shop)
- Digitization of procedures
- Transparency regarding deadlines, next steps, roles and responsibilities of the various authorities
- Maximum 2-year procedure for new RES projects. and 1 year for projects in the pre-defined permissible zones (go-to areas) and for radical renovation (repowering) of existing facilities. Maximum licensing time for photovoltaics on roofs (regardless of size), 3 months.
- Implementation of long-term network planning and investments
- Provide a transparent and digital process for network connection requests