The Environmental Impact Declarations (DIA) that expected thousands of renewable projects have brought the central government and the autonomous communities upside down in recent days. The Administration has been forced to accelerate the processing of this report so that thousands of ‘green’ megawatts do not lose the access and connection permits to the network that were awarded in 2020, as reported by La Información.
The next step that the promoters of renewable projects have to solve will be to obtain prior administrative authorization, with a deadline of April 25. This grants the right to carry out a specific installation and under certain conditions. Subsequently, with another three months to spare, until July 25, you must obtain the administrative authorization for construction.
Sources from the sector consulted by this means assure that these two steps are “quite salvageable” and that they will not cause great chaos as has been the case for obtaining the environmental impact assessment. The DIA evaluates the integration of environmental aspects in the project and determines the conditions that must be established for the adequate protection of the environment and natural resources during the execution and exploitation of the facility and, where appropriate, the cessation and dismantling .
However, the complicated will be centralized in the final administrative authorization of exploitation. This can be extended until June 25, 2025 at the latest, but the sector warns that this is where the “real bottleneck” will occur.
The same sources indicate that Red Eléctrica currently takes between five and six months to grant the exploitation authorization, so the photovoltaic and wind farms should already be built by the end of 2024 to meet the deadline. This last requirement is the one that allows, once the project has been executed, to put the facilities under tension and proceed to their exploitation. The period required for the construction of a photovoltaic installation is around 18 months, while for a wind installation this period increases to 24 months.
To get an idea, in December projects totaling around 80,000 megawatts (60,000 solar and 19,000 wind) will be pending processing and it is expected that 80% of the environmental reports will have been resolved. Some regions such as Galicia have already advanced that it has processed 120 files: 77 positive statements (2,200 megawatts) and 43 unfavorable. For their part, 20 have remained unprocessed (a total of 417 MW). The Valencian Community has resolved 107 files, with a favorable opinion for 61 projects that involve investments of 859 million euros.
Companies such as Endesa or Grenergy have also communicated that they have received a positive environmental report for some of their projects. Opdenergy has obtained environmental approval for a total of 2,320 MW. The Ministry for the Ecological Transition has managed the process for projects of more than 50 MW, while the autonomous communities have been commissioned when the capacity is lower. Ministry sources tell this medium that the Ecological Transition complied 100% and has evaluated 201 projects, of which 192 have been resolved with DIA (170 favorable and 22 unfavorable). For its part, 8 files have been archived and one file has been closed due to the developer’s withdrawal.
Now it is Red Eléctrica’s turn to report how many projects have lost the right to connect. This will be in a month. The DIA, a procedure with which the Government tried to prevent speculation with the land near the connection points, has turned out to be an unprecedented bureaucratic jam in the Spanish Administration. The Government concluded in December 2021 an extension of the term for an additional 9 months to obtain it.
Unclogging the administration
In order to put an end to the speculation that exists around renewable energy projects, the Executive will only process those that have won access to the electricity grid in competition. This is stated in the Royal Decree-Law in which the sixth anti-crisis package is developed as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In addition, the text also includes a procedure to grant permits by fast track. The Executive calls it a “process to determine the environmental condition for renewable projects of an exceptional and transitory nature.”
In this way, projects that are not located in areas of the Natura 2000 Network, in protected natural areas defined in the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Law and in the marine environment will be exempted from environmental assessment. Those for the construction of overhead electric power lines with a voltage equal to or greater than 220 kilovolts and a length greater than 15 kilometers will have to comply with the requirement.
145GW. This high number of projects, some of them environmentally or economically unfeasible, is what makes it difficult to develop those that do meet the requirements. Spain’s plan for the energy transition is one of the most ambitious within the European Union, with the installation of 70 GW of new renewable plants before 2030.