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Wind farms, bureaucracy and the challenge to speedy installation

The World Wind Energy Association says installing wind farms takes too long because of government bureaucratic hold ups.

The WWEA has published a Wind Power Planning and Permitting Index which looks at the performance of countries regarding the duration and reliability of planning and permitting process for win farms.

Using a member survey, the WWEA concluded the average international duration of planning a wind farm is 62 months, with the average permitting process taking up 29 months of that time. This contrasts with the fact that technically, wind turbines can be installed in a matter of months.

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There is a broad range of time between the faster and slowest countries, and even in some countries a big range in time difference.

In some countries the planning process is completed in three years or less and permissions are issued in less than a year. In other countries it can take seven or even more than ten years before the project is implement. In worst cases, it takes more than five years to get a building permit for a wind farm.

WWEA secretary generation Stefan Gsänger said it is extremely important for governments to understand that if they want to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels, they must accelerate the expansion rate of renewables, and especially wind power.

“The lengthy and bureaucratic approval process are a major bottleneck in the installation of wind turbines.

“There must be clear and predictable timeframes for these process and social support must be ensured by engaging local communities and maximising the socioeconomic benefits for those communities.

Installing wind farms could and should be faster

The Association recommends the following to accelerate wind power planning and permitting processes:

  • The permitting process should not take longer than 12 months, so that a decision must be made no later than one year after the submission of a wind farm building application. Greater standardisation of the approval procedures will help to shorten their duration.
  • Strengthen social support for wind power by fostering models which maximise the local share of economic and social benefits with local communities, municipalities and citizens. Local involvement in the planning process and local co-ownership of wind farms are important instruments to achieve not only high local acceptance, but local support.
  • Each country should set up a monitoring process which assesses wind power planning and permitting processes on a regular basis and identifies areas of improvement, as far as necessary also on a state/province level in order to identify more specific barriers.

The Measuring Performance of Permitting Processes: The Wind Power Planning and Permitting Index is available online.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.