EU updates guidance on permitting procedures, auction design for renewables

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The European Commission has adopted a series of new and updated guidance documents, aimed at improving and streamlining permitting procedures and auctions for renewables in its member states.

The updated recommendations for speeding up permit granting procedures feature examples of good practice, highlight the importance of digitalization and community participation, human resources and skills, as well as outlining how to handle site selection procedures and network connections.

The Commission has also revised its Renewable Energy Directive, which details locations where the deployment of renewable energy projects is not expected to have significant environmental impacts, allowing procedures to be fast-tracked. In its revision, the Commission highlights the role of proper stakeholder engagement and public consultation to “facilitate a successful designation of such acceleration areas”.

It has also updated guidance for auction design, which it says will make procedures more efficient and in line with the Net Zero Industry Act. The update allows for the use of non-price criteria, in an attempt to allow higher value-added projects to be rewarded. Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, says the introduction of non-price criteria in auctions will also “give our industry a chance to prosper at home and compete on a level playing field”.

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Elsewhere, the Commission’s Union Renewables Development Platform has also been updated. The platform is an online system where member states can publish basic information about their auction schedules, acting as a single point of information for all renewable energy auctions planned across the EU.

“Increased predictability and faster permitting are key to sending the right investment signals across the renewable energy value chain,” said Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy. “Today’s guidance from the Commission will help Member States to accelerate the deployment of renewables.”

The latest documents come close to two years since the EU adopted the REPowerEU Plan, designed to phase out imports of Russian fossil fuels across member states.

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