The EU wants wind - but must remove hurdles

Europe’s summer of sporting distraction continues.

Katherine Damian
July 29, 2021
This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
The EU wants wind - but must remove hurdles

After the delayed Euro 2020 and the return of Wimbledon tennis, we now have the Olympics in Tokyo to enthral us. It is appropriate therefore that the European Commission has chosen a get fit theme for its energy strategy.

On 14th July, the commission published its ‘Fit for 55’ plan about how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, as well as reduce the proportion of fossil fuels in the European Union’s energy mix.

These climate policies promise to shape energy investment in EU member states in the coming decades. But will we see EU countries race out of the starting blocks – or are there still too many hurdles to investment?

Let’s make like Tom Daley and dive in…

Race for the prize

One of the most important points in ‘Fit for 55’ is that it confirms the EU’s increased goal that renewables should make up 40% of its energy mix by 2030.

This is a rise from its previous target of 32%, and WindEurope said the new target would require 30GW of wind farms to be built in the EU each year between now and 2030. But how will that happen? That is double the annual wind capacity currently being built. The European Commission said it needs a “transformation of EU economy and society ambitions” – a huge aim! – and its goals for wind do indeed look ambitious.

According to the Renewable Energy Directive, the EU intends to increase its offshore wind capacity from 12GW to at least 60GW by 2030 and then 300GW by 2050. This should encourage more utilities and investors to pile into European offshore wind.

And yet ‘Fit for 55’ recognises that current national permitting and auctions won’t get us there. The EU will also look at options for cross-border permitting of new offshore wind projects, which shows that it is aware of some administrative hurdles.

The draft directive highlighted the views of developers, which said that “streamlining of permitting procedures” was the best way to enable the cost-efficient deployment of renewables onshore and offshore, with support of 91% of respondents. “Fostering regional cooperation” and “supporting PPAs” (both 88%) were rated in joint second.

But while it’s good that the EU has acknowledged the problem, we see little evidence that it knows how to tackle complexity in the permitting process for wind, especially onshore. That is a big brake on the growth of wind in Europe.

In fact, the tone of the directive is that this will be an issue for member states to work out themselves. It was ever thus. The EU has frequently shown that it can set targets for member states, but it can only cajole them to comply rather than compel them to.

There is more positivity about offshore wind. ‘Fit for 55’ would require EU countries to work together to plan offshore wind farms in each sea basin, which could be very effective way to accelerate the growth of wind – but is still an emerging model.

It is good to see the EU set out its plans but now countries need to step up.

No guarantees

Because here’s the thing: the energy transition is ongoing, but there are indications it is not happening rapidly enough.

Last month, the International Energy Agency said in its Electricity Market Report that renewables are not growing fast enough to meet growth in global energy demand. It said that global electricity demand “is set to grow by close to 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022”. Renewables are anticipated to grow too – “8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022” – but even with this, it will only meet around half the world’s new demand.

The EU has set itself an almighty challenge if it wants to transform habits towards energy while still enabling member states to have flexibility at national level. It wants to be seen as a leader in the global energy transition, alongside China and the US.

To achieve that, it needs member states to step up and remove the hurdles that hold up wind developers. As anyone who’s tried to get fit knows, it’s all very well to have a goal – but you only get there with a week-by-week plan.

After the delayed Euro 2020 and the return of Wimbledon tennis, we now have the Olympics in Tokyo to enthral us. It is appropriate therefore that the European Commission has chosen a get fit theme for its energy strategy.

On 14th July, the commission published its ‘Fit for 55’ plan about how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, as well as reduce the proportion of fossil fuels in the European Union’s energy mix.

These climate policies promise to shape energy investment in EU member states in the coming decades. But will we see EU countries race out of the starting blocks – or are there still too many hurdles to investment?

Let’s make like Tom Daley and dive in…

Race for the prize

One of the most important points in ‘Fit for 55’ is that it confirms the EU’s increased goal that renewables should make up 40% of its energy mix by 2030.

This is a rise from its previous target of 32%, and WindEurope said the new target would require 30GW of wind farms to be built in the EU each year between now and 2030. But how will that happen? That is double the annual wind capacity currently being built. The European Commission said it needs a “transformation of EU economy and society ambitions” – a huge aim! – and its goals for wind do indeed look ambitious.

According to the Renewable Energy Directive, the EU intends to increase its offshore wind capacity from 12GW to at least 60GW by 2030 and then 300GW by 2050. This should encourage more utilities and investors to pile into European offshore wind.

And yet ‘Fit for 55’ recognises that current national permitting and auctions won’t get us there. The EU will also look at options for cross-border permitting of new offshore wind projects, which shows that it is aware of some administrative hurdles.

The draft directive highlighted the views of developers, which said that “streamlining of permitting procedures” was the best way to enable the cost-efficient deployment of renewables onshore and offshore, with support of 91% of respondents. “Fostering regional cooperation” and “supporting PPAs” (both 88%) were rated in joint second.

But while it’s good that the EU has acknowledged the problem, we see little evidence that it knows how to tackle complexity in the permitting process for wind, especially onshore. That is a big brake on the growth of wind in Europe.

In fact, the tone of the directive is that this will be an issue for member states to work out themselves. It was ever thus. The EU has frequently shown that it can set targets for member states, but it can only cajole them to comply rather than compel them to.

There is more positivity about offshore wind. ‘Fit for 55’ would require EU countries to work together to plan offshore wind farms in each sea basin, which could be very effective way to accelerate the growth of wind – but is still an emerging model.

It is good to see the EU set out its plans but now countries need to step up.

No guarantees

Because here’s the thing: the energy transition is ongoing, but there are indications it is not happening rapidly enough.

Last month, the International Energy Agency said in its Electricity Market Report that renewables are not growing fast enough to meet growth in global energy demand. It said that global electricity demand “is set to grow by close to 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022”. Renewables are anticipated to grow too – “8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022” – but even with this, it will only meet around half the world’s new demand.

The EU has set itself an almighty challenge if it wants to transform habits towards energy while still enabling member states to have flexibility at national level. It wants to be seen as a leader in the global energy transition, alongside China and the US.

To achieve that, it needs member states to step up and remove the hurdles that hold up wind developers. As anyone who’s tried to get fit knows, it’s all very well to have a goal – but you only get there with a week-by-week plan.

After the delayed Euro 2020 and the return of Wimbledon tennis, we now have the Olympics in Tokyo to enthral us. It is appropriate therefore that the European Commission has chosen a get fit theme for its energy strategy.

On 14th July, the commission published its ‘Fit for 55’ plan about how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, as well as reduce the proportion of fossil fuels in the European Union’s energy mix.

These climate policies promise to shape energy investment in EU member states in the coming decades. But will we see EU countries race out of the starting blocks – or are there still too many hurdles to investment?

Let’s make like Tom Daley and dive in…

Race for the prize

One of the most important points in ‘Fit for 55’ is that it confirms the EU’s increased goal that renewables should make up 40% of its energy mix by 2030.

This is a rise from its previous target of 32%, and WindEurope said the new target would require 30GW of wind farms to be built in the EU each year between now and 2030. But how will that happen? That is double the annual wind capacity currently being built. The European Commission said it needs a “transformation of EU economy and society ambitions” – a huge aim! – and its goals for wind do indeed look ambitious.

According to the Renewable Energy Directive, the EU intends to increase its offshore wind capacity from 12GW to at least 60GW by 2030 and then 300GW by 2050. This should encourage more utilities and investors to pile into European offshore wind.

And yet ‘Fit for 55’ recognises that current national permitting and auctions won’t get us there. The EU will also look at options for cross-border permitting of new offshore wind projects, which shows that it is aware of some administrative hurdles.

The draft directive highlighted the views of developers, which said that “streamlining of permitting procedures” was the best way to enable the cost-efficient deployment of renewables onshore and offshore, with support of 91% of respondents. “Fostering regional cooperation” and “supporting PPAs” (both 88%) were rated in joint second.

But while it’s good that the EU has acknowledged the problem, we see little evidence that it knows how to tackle complexity in the permitting process for wind, especially onshore. That is a big brake on the growth of wind in Europe.

In fact, the tone of the directive is that this will be an issue for member states to work out themselves. It was ever thus. The EU has frequently shown that it can set targets for member states, but it can only cajole them to comply rather than compel them to.

There is more positivity about offshore wind. ‘Fit for 55’ would require EU countries to work together to plan offshore wind farms in each sea basin, which could be very effective way to accelerate the growth of wind – but is still an emerging model.

It is good to see the EU set out its plans but now countries need to step up.

No guarantees

Because here’s the thing: the energy transition is ongoing, but there are indications it is not happening rapidly enough.

Last month, the International Energy Agency said in its Electricity Market Report that renewables are not growing fast enough to meet growth in global energy demand. It said that global electricity demand “is set to grow by close to 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022”. Renewables are anticipated to grow too – “8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022” – but even with this, it will only meet around half the world’s new demand.

The EU has set itself an almighty challenge if it wants to transform habits towards energy while still enabling member states to have flexibility at national level. It wants to be seen as a leader in the global energy transition, alongside China and the US.

To achieve that, it needs member states to step up and remove the hurdles that hold up wind developers. As anyone who’s tried to get fit knows, it’s all very well to have a goal – but you only get there with a week-by-week plan.

After the delayed Euro 2020 and the return of Wimbledon tennis, we now have the Olympics in Tokyo to enthral us. It is appropriate therefore that the European Commission has chosen a get fit theme for its energy strategy.

On 14th July, the commission published its ‘Fit for 55’ plan about how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, as well as reduce the proportion of fossil fuels in the European Union’s energy mix.

These climate policies promise to shape energy investment in EU member states in the coming decades. But will we see EU countries race out of the starting blocks – or are there still too many hurdles to investment?

Let’s make like Tom Daley and dive in…

Race for the prize

One of the most important points in ‘Fit for 55’ is that it confirms the EU’s increased goal that renewables should make up 40% of its energy mix by 2030.

This is a rise from its previous target of 32%, and WindEurope said the new target would require 30GW of wind farms to be built in the EU each year between now and 2030. But how will that happen? That is double the annual wind capacity currently being built. The European Commission said it needs a “transformation of EU economy and society ambitions” – a huge aim! – and its goals for wind do indeed look ambitious.

According to the Renewable Energy Directive, the EU intends to increase its offshore wind capacity from 12GW to at least 60GW by 2030 and then 300GW by 2050. This should encourage more utilities and investors to pile into European offshore wind.

And yet ‘Fit for 55’ recognises that current national permitting and auctions won’t get us there. The EU will also look at options for cross-border permitting of new offshore wind projects, which shows that it is aware of some administrative hurdles.

The draft directive highlighted the views of developers, which said that “streamlining of permitting procedures” was the best way to enable the cost-efficient deployment of renewables onshore and offshore, with support of 91% of respondents. “Fostering regional cooperation” and “supporting PPAs” (both 88%) were rated in joint second.

But while it’s good that the EU has acknowledged the problem, we see little evidence that it knows how to tackle complexity in the permitting process for wind, especially onshore. That is a big brake on the growth of wind in Europe.

In fact, the tone of the directive is that this will be an issue for member states to work out themselves. It was ever thus. The EU has frequently shown that it can set targets for member states, but it can only cajole them to comply rather than compel them to.

There is more positivity about offshore wind. ‘Fit for 55’ would require EU countries to work together to plan offshore wind farms in each sea basin, which could be very effective way to accelerate the growth of wind – but is still an emerging model.

It is good to see the EU set out its plans but now countries need to step up.

No guarantees

Because here’s the thing: the energy transition is ongoing, but there are indications it is not happening rapidly enough.

Last month, the International Energy Agency said in its Electricity Market Report that renewables are not growing fast enough to meet growth in global energy demand. It said that global electricity demand “is set to grow by close to 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022”. Renewables are anticipated to grow too – “8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022” – but even with this, it will only meet around half the world’s new demand.

The EU has set itself an almighty challenge if it wants to transform habits towards energy while still enabling member states to have flexibility at national level. It wants to be seen as a leader in the global energy transition, alongside China and the US.

To achieve that, it needs member states to step up and remove the hurdles that hold up wind developers. As anyone who’s tried to get fit knows, it’s all very well to have a goal – but you only get there with a week-by-week plan.

After the delayed Euro 2020 and the return of Wimbledon tennis, we now have the Olympics in Tokyo to enthral us. It is appropriate therefore that the European Commission has chosen a get fit theme for its energy strategy.

On 14th July, the commission published its ‘Fit for 55’ plan about how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, as well as reduce the proportion of fossil fuels in the European Union’s energy mix.

These climate policies promise to shape energy investment in EU member states in the coming decades. But will we see EU countries race out of the starting blocks – or are there still too many hurdles to investment?

Let’s make like Tom Daley and dive in…

Race for the prize

One of the most important points in ‘Fit for 55’ is that it confirms the EU’s increased goal that renewables should make up 40% of its energy mix by 2030.

This is a rise from its previous target of 32%, and WindEurope said the new target would require 30GW of wind farms to be built in the EU each year between now and 2030. But how will that happen? That is double the annual wind capacity currently being built. The European Commission said it needs a “transformation of EU economy and society ambitions” – a huge aim! – and its goals for wind do indeed look ambitious.

According to the Renewable Energy Directive, the EU intends to increase its offshore wind capacity from 12GW to at least 60GW by 2030 and then 300GW by 2050. This should encourage more utilities and investors to pile into European offshore wind.

And yet ‘Fit for 55’ recognises that current national permitting and auctions won’t get us there. The EU will also look at options for cross-border permitting of new offshore wind projects, which shows that it is aware of some administrative hurdles.

The draft directive highlighted the views of developers, which said that “streamlining of permitting procedures” was the best way to enable the cost-efficient deployment of renewables onshore and offshore, with support of 91% of respondents. “Fostering regional cooperation” and “supporting PPAs” (both 88%) were rated in joint second.

But while it’s good that the EU has acknowledged the problem, we see little evidence that it knows how to tackle complexity in the permitting process for wind, especially onshore. That is a big brake on the growth of wind in Europe.

In fact, the tone of the directive is that this will be an issue for member states to work out themselves. It was ever thus. The EU has frequently shown that it can set targets for member states, but it can only cajole them to comply rather than compel them to.

There is more positivity about offshore wind. ‘Fit for 55’ would require EU countries to work together to plan offshore wind farms in each sea basin, which could be very effective way to accelerate the growth of wind – but is still an emerging model.

It is good to see the EU set out its plans but now countries need to step up.

No guarantees

Because here’s the thing: the energy transition is ongoing, but there are indications it is not happening rapidly enough.

Last month, the International Energy Agency said in its Electricity Market Report that renewables are not growing fast enough to meet growth in global energy demand. It said that global electricity demand “is set to grow by close to 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022”. Renewables are anticipated to grow too – “8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022” – but even with this, it will only meet around half the world’s new demand.

The EU has set itself an almighty challenge if it wants to transform habits towards energy while still enabling member states to have flexibility at national level. It wants to be seen as a leader in the global energy transition, alongside China and the US.

To achieve that, it needs member states to step up and remove the hurdles that hold up wind developers. As anyone who’s tried to get fit knows, it’s all very well to have a goal – but you only get there with a week-by-week plan.

Full archive access is available to members only

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.

Full archive access is available to members only

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.