Spanish govt sets roadblock for “speculative” renewable energy projects

The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a new royal decree-law (RDL) which, among others, prevents the creation of a renewables bubble by imposing a temporary moratorium on grid access permits and putting order in the permitting process.

As explained by the ministry for ecological transition, the RDL backer, Spain currently has a backlog of more than 430 GW worth of requests for grid access. The ministry believes that the majority of these projects are speculative ventures given their immaturity and the fact that around 60% of grid access holders have not applied for a corresponding connection permit.

These circumstances make it more expensive to realise sound projects — those that will really move investment and create jobs, according to the ministry.

Spain will need 60 GW of renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade to meet the goals laid out in the 2021-2030 National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), or around seven times less than what investors have brought to the table.

Capacity additions in line with the NECP could attract more than EUR 90 billion (USD 101.66bn) in investments and create 107,000 to 135,000 jobs per year in the next decade, the energy authority estimates.

To help solid projects get ahead and avoid, in the ministry’s words “speculative movements”, the RDL sets deadlines for each milestone in the permitting chain that project developers have to meet to get the next permit. Failing that, any granted permits will expire automatically and deposited financial guarantees will be lost.

In all, developers have five years to complete the whole process.

Within three months following the RDL’s entry into force, permit holders can exit the chain and claim their deposits. In the meantime, the RDL imposes a moratorium on new requests for grid access until these permits are further regulated.

New regulation on access will require developers to present projects in mature stages and previous studies, the ministry added. The regulation is due in three months once the RDL is published in the official state gazette.


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