The European Commission unveiled its Wind Power Action Plan today, aimed at supporting the wind energy sector in overcoming barriers. While the plan prioritises streamlining permitting processes, NGOs voice concern over the lack of provisions for citizen involvement.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europe’s largest coalition of environmental organisations, welcomes the EU non-legislative initiative tabled today to accelerate the deployment of wind energy. The suggested focus on digital permitting platforms and workforce development is vital to expedite wind energy projects.
However, the EEB strongly laments the absence of measures for public engagement, which are just as critical as administrative efficiency in ensuring a rapid expansion of wind power. Ignoring the importance of citizen participation and insufficient nature-inclusive considerations risk leading to new bottlenecks as controversial wind projects could face social resistance and legal disputes in courts.
The European target of at least 42.5% of renewables by 2030 will require roughly doubling thecurrent wind capacity, from 204 GW in 2022 to more than 500 GW. The Paris Agreement-aligned path, however, suggests EU member states should strive for524 GW installed wind capacity by 2030 alongside substantial reductions in energy demand.
Cosimo Tansini, Policy Officer for Renewables at the EEB, said:
“Wind energy deployment has recently lagged significantly behind solar. Improved digital permitting tools and investment in skilled administrators and workers are the right way to speed up wind project approvals. The inclusion of qualitative criteria in publicly funded tenders is also good news. Member States should now ensure that environmental sustainability and citizen participation are strongly rewarded in project tenders. This transition isn’t just about time and capacity; it’s also about winning people’s support, and to do that it needs to be exemplary.”
The Wind Power Action Plan outlines five main priorities and 16 specific actions to achieve them. The Commission’s approach to accelerating wind project approvals includes:
Extending the duration of the EU Emergency Regulation on the acceleration of renewables, due to expire in June 2024.
Advancing the implementation of the new norms under the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED) through concerted action between the Commission and Member States.
Supporting Member States in their implementation efforts through various technical and financial assistance mechanisms.