WindEurope and seven other industry associations have written to the European Commission calling for “concrete action” to speed up the slow permitting process which is delaying new renewable energy investments across the bloc.

The heads of the eight trade groups have sent a letter to top EC politicians urging them to put pressure on national governments to deliver on the European Green Deal and the EU’s 2050 decarbonisation targets.

The letter warns that restarting Europe’s economy post-Covid-19, and delivering on the EU’s 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets, will not be achievable without an appropriate and simplified framework for permitting.

“Renewables are the technologies of choice – they are scalable, shovel-ready, cost-competitive and labour-rich. They will be the cornerstone of a climate neutral energy system by 2050, according to your long term decarbonisation strategy,” said the letter sent, among others, to vice-president for the Green Deal Frans Timmermans, energy commissioner Kadri Simson and internal market commissioner Thierry Breton.

“Addressing permitting bottlenecks is critical to unlock renewables’ potential and make investments happen. But as things stand, national licensing frameworks do not keep pace with the scale and volume of renewable investments needed to deliver an EU green recovery – let alone the European Green Deal,” said the trade groups.

“Permitting rules and procedures for new and repowered renewables projects remain too complex and lengthy despite the provisions in the reviewed Renewable Energy Directive asking member states to simplify and shorten them.

“Slow processes prevent the use of the most efficient technologies available which would be able to deliver the transition at the lowest cost for society. Unclear regulatory frameworks and delays in legislation exacerbate investors’ uncertainty.”

The industry bodies said the European Commission spotted this issue last year when assessing draft 2030 National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). “And it was right to ask all member states to substantiate the measures for simplified permitting as part of the NECPs’ country-specific recommendations.

“But to date almost all the final NECPs remain equally silent on the policies that will speed up permitting on the ground. Most member states have not even planned for additional administrative or human resources to issue the permits needed to meet their 2030 renewable energy goals.”

The trade groups said this is a red flag for the industry. “Without an appropriate and simplified framework for permitting, the 2030 national renewable energy commitments remain purely academic.

“We therefore call on the EC to take further action to remove existing bottlenecks for the permitting of renewable energy projets in Europe. This should be one of the key ‘implementation flagship initiatives’ to support the transposition of the Clean Energy Package provisions and the delivery of Europe’s 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets.”

In addition to WindEurope the letter is also signed by leaders from SolarPower Europe, Bioenergy Europe, the European Geothermal Energy Council, the European Renewable Energy Federation, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association, Ocean Energy Europe, and Solar Heat Europe.