French bureaucratic revolution could unshackle wind

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Ilaria Valtimora
February 5, 2018
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French bureaucratic revolution could unshackle wind

Shortly after Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency last year, we analysed wind investment in France in our first Finance Quarterly report. We noted that the wind sector in the country has been steadily growing despite issues including a long permitting process. Imagine what developers could do with more support.

They might soon have it.

Last month, secretary of state for ecology Sébastien Lecornu presented a ten-point plan to speed up wind development. He did this after an announcement by ecology minister Nicolas Hulot last July that administrative hurdles would be reduced for wind projects. This is part of the government’s strategy to reach 26GW of wind capacity by 2023, compared to 13.7GW at the end of 2017.

Here is a quick summary of Lecornu’s key points.

First, he said the government wanted to halve the duration of the permitting process for wind farms. It can take between seven and nine years from the start of permitting to completion for an onshore wind farm in France, and could be more than ten years offshore. We'll know when one of the latter group actually completes.

Wind developers have to deal with a long bureaucratic process, where almost 70% of the authorisations issued for projects are subject to appeal in administrative tribunals. Those tribunals can take years to complete, which delays the completion of projects.

To address this issue, the plan proposes to remove a level of jurisdiction, which is a measure already used by the government for large commercial areas, and to abolish the ‘electrical work approval’. These measures would aim to reduce the duration of wind farms’ permitting process to between three and four years, which is more in line with the process in Germany.

If these proposals become law then wind firms should see fewer projects getting stuck in bureaucratic delays and this would, in theory, give investors more confidence in the French market.

In addition, the plan proposes some changes to make wind farms more attractive to local communities, to reduce court appeals.

For example, it would guarantee 20% of the wind part of the ‘fixed taxation on network enterprises’ to the municipality where the wind turbines are being planned. Last year, this generated €7,400 for each megawatt of wind installed, which mainly went to government institutions. Guaranteeing the 20% of this wind tax to local areas should make them more attractive to the communities.

That should help to support investment in wind.

And easing the long permitting process could help offshore wind too. The nation awarded support to six offshore projects totalling around 3GW in 2011 and 2012, but the earliest that these would be commissioned is 2020 or 2021.

The part of the proposal that is least clear is how the French wind sector could bring in more international investors. France has so far been an insiders’ game, with tariffs set up to favour local manufacturers and other firms, and a complex transition from a feed-in-tariff to a feed-in-premium system. These have made France a tough market to approach for overseas players.

For now, though, we are optimistic. The plan shows a commitment by the French government to support wind. If that continues, 26GW by 2030 could just be achievable.

Shortly after Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency last year, we analysed wind investment in France in our first Finance Quarterly report. We noted that the wind sector in the country has been steadily growing despite issues including a long permitting process. Imagine what developers could do with more support.

They might soon have it.

Last month, secretary of state for ecology Sébastien Lecornu presented a ten-point plan to speed up wind development. He did this after an announcement by ecology minister Nicolas Hulot last July that administrative hurdles would be reduced for wind projects. This is part of the government’s strategy to reach 26GW of wind capacity by 2023, compared to 13.7GW at the end of 2017.

Here is a quick summary of Lecornu’s key points.

First, he said the government wanted to halve the duration of the permitting process for wind farms. It can take between seven and nine years from the start of permitting to completion for an onshore wind farm in France, and could be more than ten years offshore. We'll know when one of the latter group actually completes.

Wind developers have to deal with a long bureaucratic process, where almost 70% of the authorisations issued for projects are subject to appeal in administrative tribunals. Those tribunals can take years to complete, which delays the completion of projects.

To address this issue, the plan proposes to remove a level of jurisdiction, which is a measure already used by the government for large commercial areas, and to abolish the ‘electrical work approval’. These measures would aim to reduce the duration of wind farms’ permitting process to between three and four years, which is more in line with the process in Germany.

If these proposals become law then wind firms should see fewer projects getting stuck in bureaucratic delays and this would, in theory, give investors more confidence in the French market.

In addition, the plan proposes some changes to make wind farms more attractive to local communities, to reduce court appeals.

For example, it would guarantee 20% of the wind part of the ‘fixed taxation on network enterprises’ to the municipality where the wind turbines are being planned. Last year, this generated €7,400 for each megawatt of wind installed, which mainly went to government institutions. Guaranteeing the 20% of this wind tax to local areas should make them more attractive to the communities.

That should help to support investment in wind.

And easing the long permitting process could help offshore wind too. The nation awarded support to six offshore projects totalling around 3GW in 2011 and 2012, but the earliest that these would be commissioned is 2020 or 2021.

The part of the proposal that is least clear is how the French wind sector could bring in more international investors. France has so far been an insiders’ game, with tariffs set up to favour local manufacturers and other firms, and a complex transition from a feed-in-tariff to a feed-in-premium system. These have made France a tough market to approach for overseas players.

For now, though, we are optimistic. The plan shows a commitment by the French government to support wind. If that continues, 26GW by 2030 could just be achievable.

Shortly after Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency last year, we analysed wind investment in France in our first Finance Quarterly report. We noted that the wind sector in the country has been steadily growing despite issues including a long permitting process. Imagine what developers could do with more support.

They might soon have it.

Last month, secretary of state for ecology Sébastien Lecornu presented a ten-point plan to speed up wind development. He did this after an announcement by ecology minister Nicolas Hulot last July that administrative hurdles would be reduced for wind projects. This is part of the government’s strategy to reach 26GW of wind capacity by 2023, compared to 13.7GW at the end of 2017.

Here is a quick summary of Lecornu’s key points.

First, he said the government wanted to halve the duration of the permitting process for wind farms. It can take between seven and nine years from the start of permitting to completion for an onshore wind farm in France, and could be more than ten years offshore. We'll know when one of the latter group actually completes.

Wind developers have to deal with a long bureaucratic process, where almost 70% of the authorisations issued for projects are subject to appeal in administrative tribunals. Those tribunals can take years to complete, which delays the completion of projects.

To address this issue, the plan proposes to remove a level of jurisdiction, which is a measure already used by the government for large commercial areas, and to abolish the ‘electrical work approval’. These measures would aim to reduce the duration of wind farms’ permitting process to between three and four years, which is more in line with the process in Germany.

If these proposals become law then wind firms should see fewer projects getting stuck in bureaucratic delays and this would, in theory, give investors more confidence in the French market.

In addition, the plan proposes some changes to make wind farms more attractive to local communities, to reduce court appeals.

For example, it would guarantee 20% of the wind part of the ‘fixed taxation on network enterprises’ to the municipality where the wind turbines are being planned. Last year, this generated €7,400 for each megawatt of wind installed, which mainly went to government institutions. Guaranteeing the 20% of this wind tax to local areas should make them more attractive to the communities.

That should help to support investment in wind.

And easing the long permitting process could help offshore wind too. The nation awarded support to six offshore projects totalling around 3GW in 2011 and 2012, but the earliest that these would be commissioned is 2020 or 2021.

The part of the proposal that is least clear is how the French wind sector could bring in more international investors. France has so far been an insiders’ game, with tariffs set up to favour local manufacturers and other firms, and a complex transition from a feed-in-tariff to a feed-in-premium system. These have made France a tough market to approach for overseas players.

For now, though, we are optimistic. The plan shows a commitment by the French government to support wind. If that continues, 26GW by 2030 could just be achievable.

Shortly after Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency last year, we analysed wind investment in France in our first Finance Quarterly report. We noted that the wind sector in the country has been steadily growing despite issues including a long permitting process. Imagine what developers could do with more support.

They might soon have it.

Last month, secretary of state for ecology Sébastien Lecornu presented a ten-point plan to speed up wind development. He did this after an announcement by ecology minister Nicolas Hulot last July that administrative hurdles would be reduced for wind projects. This is part of the government’s strategy to reach 26GW of wind capacity by 2023, compared to 13.7GW at the end of 2017.

Here is a quick summary of Lecornu’s key points.

First, he said the government wanted to halve the duration of the permitting process for wind farms. It can take between seven and nine years from the start of permitting to completion for an onshore wind farm in France, and could be more than ten years offshore. We'll know when one of the latter group actually completes.

Wind developers have to deal with a long bureaucratic process, where almost 70% of the authorisations issued for projects are subject to appeal in administrative tribunals. Those tribunals can take years to complete, which delays the completion of projects.

To address this issue, the plan proposes to remove a level of jurisdiction, which is a measure already used by the government for large commercial areas, and to abolish the ‘electrical work approval’. These measures would aim to reduce the duration of wind farms’ permitting process to between three and four years, which is more in line with the process in Germany.

If these proposals become law then wind firms should see fewer projects getting stuck in bureaucratic delays and this would, in theory, give investors more confidence in the French market.

In addition, the plan proposes some changes to make wind farms more attractive to local communities, to reduce court appeals.

For example, it would guarantee 20% of the wind part of the ‘fixed taxation on network enterprises’ to the municipality where the wind turbines are being planned. Last year, this generated €7,400 for each megawatt of wind installed, which mainly went to government institutions. Guaranteeing the 20% of this wind tax to local areas should make them more attractive to the communities.

That should help to support investment in wind.

And easing the long permitting process could help offshore wind too. The nation awarded support to six offshore projects totalling around 3GW in 2011 and 2012, but the earliest that these would be commissioned is 2020 or 2021.

The part of the proposal that is least clear is how the French wind sector could bring in more international investors. France has so far been an insiders’ game, with tariffs set up to favour local manufacturers and other firms, and a complex transition from a feed-in-tariff to a feed-in-premium system. These have made France a tough market to approach for overseas players.

For now, though, we are optimistic. The plan shows a commitment by the French government to support wind. If that continues, 26GW by 2030 could just be achievable.

Shortly after Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency last year, we analysed wind investment in France in our first Finance Quarterly report. We noted that the wind sector in the country has been steadily growing despite issues including a long permitting process. Imagine what developers could do with more support.

They might soon have it.

Last month, secretary of state for ecology Sébastien Lecornu presented a ten-point plan to speed up wind development. He did this after an announcement by ecology minister Nicolas Hulot last July that administrative hurdles would be reduced for wind projects. This is part of the government’s strategy to reach 26GW of wind capacity by 2023, compared to 13.7GW at the end of 2017.

Here is a quick summary of Lecornu’s key points.

First, he said the government wanted to halve the duration of the permitting process for wind farms. It can take between seven and nine years from the start of permitting to completion for an onshore wind farm in France, and could be more than ten years offshore. We'll know when one of the latter group actually completes.

Wind developers have to deal with a long bureaucratic process, where almost 70% of the authorisations issued for projects are subject to appeal in administrative tribunals. Those tribunals can take years to complete, which delays the completion of projects.

To address this issue, the plan proposes to remove a level of jurisdiction, which is a measure already used by the government for large commercial areas, and to abolish the ‘electrical work approval’. These measures would aim to reduce the duration of wind farms’ permitting process to between three and four years, which is more in line with the process in Germany.

If these proposals become law then wind firms should see fewer projects getting stuck in bureaucratic delays and this would, in theory, give investors more confidence in the French market.

In addition, the plan proposes some changes to make wind farms more attractive to local communities, to reduce court appeals.

For example, it would guarantee 20% of the wind part of the ‘fixed taxation on network enterprises’ to the municipality where the wind turbines are being planned. Last year, this generated €7,400 for each megawatt of wind installed, which mainly went to government institutions. Guaranteeing the 20% of this wind tax to local areas should make them more attractive to the communities.

That should help to support investment in wind.

And easing the long permitting process could help offshore wind too. The nation awarded support to six offshore projects totalling around 3GW in 2011 and 2012, but the earliest that these would be commissioned is 2020 or 2021.

The part of the proposal that is least clear is how the French wind sector could bring in more international investors. France has so far been an insiders’ game, with tariffs set up to favour local manufacturers and other firms, and a complex transition from a feed-in-tariff to a feed-in-premium system. These have made France a tough market to approach for overseas players.

For now, though, we are optimistic. The plan shows a commitment by the French government to support wind. If that continues, 26GW by 2030 could just be achievable.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.