Austrian Chamber of Commerce Demands Acceleration of Energy Transition with Faster Approval Procedures

PeopleExecutives ♦ Published: November 10, 2022; 19:09 ♦ (Vindobona)

The EU Commission's emergency regulation is intended to accelerate the expansion of additional energy capacities, with the draft also to be extended to other areas of energy infrastructure. The head of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Karlheinz Kopf, demands acceleration of the Energy Transition with faster approval procedures and eased bureaucracy.

The Austrian Chamber of Commerce demands an eased bureaucracy extended to other areas of energy infrastructure. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Thomas Ledl [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Against the backdrop of the current energy crisis, national and European decision-makers are looking for ways to diversify Europe's energy supply. "The expansion of additional generation capacity is a basic prerequisite for ensuring supply in Europe," emphasizes Karlheinz Kopf, Secretary General of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. "But this is simply not progressing fast enough. A major bottleneck factor is the approval procedures, which delay the implementation of projects for years." Back in May, the European Commission proposed, utilizing an amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive, to simplify and speed up the approval procedures for renewable energy. However, negotiations on this revision are ongoing.

"We don't have that time!" emphasizes Kopf. "Time is pressing - security of supply, dependence on Russia and the tense economic situation demand faster action. That is why we welcome this initiative, which the European Commission has set with the publication of today's emergency proposal for a regulation on a framework to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources. At last, concrete measures are being proposed quickly to shorten procedures. What is important now is an early decision and swift national implementation. At the national level, the WKÖ has already successfully campaigned for a significant acceleration of EIA procedures, which significantly supports the expansion of renewables. Thus, numerous proposals of the WKÖ were included in the draft for an amendment to the EIA Act."

The proposal of the European Commission provides several accurate tools to facilitate and accelerate the expansion of renewable energies. For example, it gives these projects the label of being "in an overriding public interest" - a strong asset when balancing interests with other public interests. In addition, the ordinance sets ambitious time limits for approvals.

"However, the draft does not go far enough," the Secretary-General emphasizes. "An extension to other subsectors of energy infrastructure is necessary. A solution to the current energy crisis and a transformation of our energy system is only possible if grids and storage facilities can also be expanded as quickly as possible."

The regulation's validity period of only one year is also insufficient. "Repowering and expansion projects cannot always be implemented in the short term. If the legal framework is constantly changing, this could unsettle investors. A longer period would therefore make sense," Kopf concludes.

WKO Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce