The French president spoke at the inauguration of the offshore wind farm at Saint-Nazaire, on the French west coast, on Thursday (22 September).
“We need to clearly reduce delays” in the development of renewable energies, he said, highlighting that it took over 10 years to make Saint-Nazaire’s wind farm operational.
France, which is notoriously slow at granting permits for wind energy projects, failed to meet the 23% renewable target it set for itself for 2020.
On Monday (26 September), the new renewables bill were presented to the Council of Ministers, with the hope of expediting future projects.
The bill proposed by the government proposes to pool public consultations, generalise online participation for specific projects, and improve compatibility between all urban planning documents.
The aim is to double the pace of renewable energies, particularly offshore wind.
In recommendations published in May, the European Commission urged EU member states to set “clearly defined, accelerated and as short as possible deadlines for all the steps required for the granting of permits to build and operate renewable energy projects”.
But the French bill, approved by the national climate transition council, does not set any. And while Macron made references to the reduction of permitting procedures, these do not correspond to the expectations set by the EU’s institutions.
The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive – revised by the Commission in May in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine – sets a one-year deadline for the examination of permit applications for projects located in ‘go-to areas’ and a two-year deadline for all other projects.
The time limit is reduced to six months for “repowering” permit applications of existing wind farm and for units of less than 150 kW located in go-to areas. It then goes up to one year for the same projects outside.
On top of that, the registration period for permit applications is reduced to 14 days for projects in go-to areas, and one month for projects outside.
But Macron announced that procedures will only be simplified to save between three and six months for public enquiries and environmental authorisations, and even one year for offshore wind projects.
No go-to areas
Neither does the bill determine any go-to areas for the development of renewable energies generally. Rather, it sets out only special zones for the development of offshore wind projects.
The EU’ Renewable Energy Directive, which is currently up for revision, should help France clarify these deadlines. The outcome of EU negotiations, due at the end of the year, will give the government clear indications when it comes to setting binding time limits into French law.