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France announces plan aimed at doubling wind power capacity

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The French government have announced a plan aimed at overcoming resistance to wind energy, aiming to double generation capacity by 2023.

Presently, the government’s ambitions for the sector are being thwarted by a very effective opposition campaign. WindEurope has told Power Engineering International that one of its stated aims is to reduce the admnistrative and permitting procedures hindering fluent development.

The 10-point plan specifically targets cutting in half the average time it takes for wind power projects to be completed and connected to the French electricity grid.
Offshore wind turbine
Opponents of wind power have so far frustrated government attempts to reach renewable energy targets, which include aiming to have up to 26 GW of offshore wind generation capacity by 2023 compared to 12.9 GW currently.

Global installed wind energy capacity has grown on average by 22 percent a year since 2006 as countries turn to low-carbon sources to produce electricity, according to Reuters.

"Currently it takes seven to nine years to develop offshore wind projects," said French junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu, who added that the reforms would halve that time.

French activists opposed to wind farms have been systematically filing appeals against wind projects through administrative courts. Those courts take years to hear cases, thus delaying the completion of projects.

"The direct consequence of this is a lengthening of the time it takes to complete a project -- seven to nine years on average -- compared to three to four years in Germany," the government said in a statement regarding its new proposals.

Some 70 percent of authorized projects are facing appeals in Administrative Tribunals courts, the government said, adding that its reforms would remove a level of jurisdiction in the appeals process. 

WindEurope press spokesperson Andrew Canning told Power Engineering International, that administrative and permitting procedures are amongst the most important obstacles to the development of wind farms.

Fair and shorter permitting and connection procedures would significantly reduce project development costs. We carried out a study a couple of years back called ‘WindBarriers’. It showed that project developers face average lead times for administrative authorisation of almost 55 months and grid connection procedures of approximately 26 months." 

"The European wind industry’s objective is to shorten these periods to 24 and 6 months respectively," Canning added.

 

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