Swifter environmental permits latest RES simplification step

A plan to scrap renewable energy production licenses for all RES technologies, announced yesterday by the energy ministry, is being followed up by an addition measure, through legislation expected next month, promising to drastically hasten the processing time of environmental permits for projects in highly protected areas.

The current time needed to obtain environmental permits may be cut by as much as half, sector officials informed.

Solar energy project environmental permits, for example, now take between four and six months to be issued but this period may be slashed to two months.

Projects seeking environmental permits are graded, the environmental sensitivity of areas envisioned being a key factor. The A1 category, including wind energy projects in NATURA zones, is the strictest. A2 is a medium category, while category B offers fewer obstacles for environmental permits.

The upcoming legislation will be designed to shift a number of RES projects from the A1 and A2 categories to the less demanding category B.

Though solar projects are typically graded as A2 and category B projects, hundreds stand to benefit from the upcoming legislative revision, sector sources supported.

However, it should be noted, production licenses and environmental permits represent just part of the bureaucratic procedure for RES projects.

The energy ministry, seeking to simplify RES licensing procedures, aims to reduce the overall licensing time needed to two years, the EU average.

A ministry decision to abolish the need for production licenses and replace them with simpler online confirmation through a single information system was disclosed yesterday.