Spain speeds up environmental permits for renewables

The field of renewable energy projects under development in Spain is undergoing significant changes and measures that could shape a new dynamic in processing and obtaining environmental permits. It is worth noting that the guarantees required for processing photovoltaic projects in Spain amount to €40 per kV, a substantial payment for projects with large capacities.

Until a few months ago, numerous renewable energy projects in Spain were at risk due to delays by public administrations in processing environmental impact statements (EIS). In response to the climate of unease and uncertainty among companies in the renewable energy sector, the Spanish Government has taken two relevant measures:

(i) The massive approval of EISs in a large number of projects, both by the Government (in those with capacity above 50 MW) and by the Autonomous Communities (in projects with capacity below 50 MW) – earning criticism from some players in the sector who believe that the process was flawed.

(ii) The approval of new regulations to speed up the processing of EISs and environmental permits for renewable energy projects is a significant bureaucratic and time-related obstacle to developing renewable energy projects in Spain.

New regulations for environmental permits

Given the above context and the European Union’s need to reduce its energy dependence, two regulations have been approved to speed up the processing of environmental permits for renewable energy projects: Royal Decree-Law 20/2022, of 27 December, on measures to respond to the economic and social consequences of the war in Ukraine (RDL 20/2022) and Council Regulation (EU)2022/2577 of 22 December 2022, establishing a framework for accelerating the deployment of renewable energies.

New features of RD 20/2022

The features of RD 20/2022 include:

  • A new specific procedure applies to the Central Government and the Autonomous Communities (optional). This procedure aims to determine the potential environmental impact of each project from the beginning. If no harmful effects on the environment are found during this process, the project can proceed with the processing.
  • Furthermore, it is now possible to process the application for prior administrative authorization, works and construction permit, and declaration of public utility (where applicable) jointly.

If the environmental permit is favourable, the new regulations allow for shortened permitting deadlines, such as through simplified processing or reducing the public information procedure.

It is important to note that these regulations are temporary and intended to expedite renewable energy projects starting in 2023 and 2024. Therefore, investors, promoters, or developers of renewable energy projects in Spain should take advantage of these new legislative advantages, considering their short duration.

If you need additional information regarding environmental permits in Spain, 

Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice.

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