Wind industry calls for urgent last-minute change to emergency measures on project permitting

CEOs from leading players in the European wind industry have urged EU energy ministers to make changes to the emergency project permitting measures due to be adopted tomorrow as they would not apply to the roughly 80GW of wind capacity currently stuck in permitting queues.

The emergency measures in their proposed form would not help speed up construction of 80GW of wind capacity stuck in permitting queues across Europe, WindEurope warns (pic credit: Nordex)

In their current form, "the emergency measures would only apply to new permit applications so would only unlock a small fraction of the wind energy projects currently under development", said a joint letter from more than 20 industry CEOs issued today (23 November 2022).

"As they stand, these measures constitute a step backwards in the simplification of permitting," stated the letter to the Czech presidency of the council on the EU emergency regulation for the acceleration of permitting for renewable energy. 

The CEOs stressed they are "extremely concerned about the ongoing discussions" over the emergency measures. "For all the permits that are pending, the emergency regulation would not help," they said. "In fact, it would set us back compared to the provisions currently discussed between [the] council and European Parliament as part of the Renewable Energy Directive revision."

There is some 80GW of wind energy capacity currently stuck in permitting procedures across Europe, according to WindEurope, who's CEO, Giles Dickson, also signed the letter. "The simplification and acceleration of permitting is essential, not least to strengthen Europe’s energy security," it stated. The trade body had initially welcomed the emergency measures, especially as they included a timeframe for permitting repowering projects, but the details had not been confirmed at that stage.

Repowering is still included in the emergency measures, with the document stating that "38GW of wind plant is coming to end of life and would be lost without this measure".

‘Step backwards’

With new rules that will apply to all renewables, both new projects and those currently in the permitting process, the new RepowerEU energy strategy does a lot to simplify permitting, it noted. The European Council had also recently agreed there should be further emergency measures to accelerate permitting. However, by only applying to new projects, they are "a step backwards compared to the RepowerEU measures", WindEurope said.

"It is impossible to justify this step backwards," it added. "Europe urgently needs more renewables to replace Russian gas and improve energy security. The emergency measures must apply to all permits."

In their letter, the CEOs made the same plea to EU ministers: "We urge you to make the necessary simple changes to the text to ensure this emergency regulation rises to the challenge at hand and helps unlock tens of GWs of projects to the benefit of European families and businesses."

The letter was signed by all western turbine manufacturers and most major developers.