10 June 2022
WindEurope CEO on the release of the REPowerEU Action Plan and the Esbjerg Summit
Lots of things have happened this last month on Europe’s new energy strategy, “REPowerEU”. The European Commission tabled a REPowerEU Action Plan which details how exactly the EU will get out of Russian energy imports by 2027 and accelerate the expansion of renewables. The REPowerEU Action Plan aims to improve Europe’s energy security.
The Action Plan involves the EU raising its renewables target to 45% of (total) energy by 2030. The target is 40% today – and as recently as 2018 the planned target was 27%. But the target is academic if measures aren’t in place to reach it. And the REPowerEU Action Plan is right on the money here – because it contains a whole raft of measures to simplify the permitting of renewables.
A new law will enshrine the principle of renewables expansion being an “overriding public interest”. It’ll also require Governments to set up “go-to” areas to fast-track permitting within a year on the back of a strategic environmental assessment, without needing project-specific EIAs. And the Commission have also clarified that the 2-year deadline for permit decisions (in all other areas) and the 1-year deadline for repowering, includes all permits – and that the clock starts ticking once an EIA is submitted.
Alongside these new rules, the REPowerEU Action Plan contains 8 pages of detailed recommendations to national Governments on how exactly they can and should simplify their permitting rules and procedures. And 45 pages of good practice from around Europe on different aspects of permitting that Governments should follow. See WindEurope’s new permitting infographic for a full breakdown of all of the EU’s new rules and recommendations.
And boy how we’ve got to simplify the permitting to deliver the volumes the EU now want from us to help get Europe off Russian gas. By 2030 the EU want us to expand wind energy capacity from the 190 GW we have today to 510 GW. That’s 38 GW a year of new build. Last year we built 11 GW. And with the current permitting processes we expected (pre-war) to average 18 GW a year over 2022-26.
The REPowerEU Action Plan also pledges to strengthen Europe’s renewable supply chains e.g. with new action on the sourcing of key materials. And it envisages a major acceleration also in the electrification of Europe’s economy, e.g. with a doubling of the targets for new heat pumps and higher targets for renewable hydrogen.
Wind is central to Europe’s new energy strategy. To illustrate the very day the REPowerEU Action Plan came out, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went to Esbjerg for an offshore wind summit with Olaf Scholz and the Prime Ministers of Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. The four countries made new commitments to have 65 GW of offshore between them in the North Sea by 2030 and 150 GW by 2050. You can read more about the summit and the Esbjerg Declaration here.
The state of our supply chain remains a dominant issue for us. All five of Europe’s wind turbine manufacturers are now operating at a loss. Renewables must be made in Europe. The EU and national Governments want this too, and the REPowerEU Action Plan doesn’t shy away from the issue. It recognises the EU has a role to play, that it needs to strengthen wind and solar supply chains and take action on the sourcing and re-shoring of key materials and components. We are working closely with the EU Commission on the concrete measures.
Technology will also be key to our success – and to Europe’s energy security. We need to maximise yields, strengthen our efficiency and optimise our operations wherever we can. WindEurope’s Technology Workshop 2022 will focus on all of this. It’s on 23-24 June in Brussels. The leading innovators in the wind industry and academia will be there. There’ll also be a poster exhibition and pitches showcasing the latest breakthroughs. Registration is open – with special prices for WindEurope Members.
Finally, can I invite you all to our 2022 Annual General Assembly (AGA) which takes place on 29 June, from 16:45 – 18:00 CEST at our offices in Brussels. It’s a hybrid meeting, so you can also join online if you wish. You can click here to register. After the AGA we then have our annual reception in our garden, a joint event again with our friends in the chemical industry (Cefic) – and this year raising money for Ukraine.
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