Italy plans 'special areas' for renewables to help cut red tape

by Reuters
Monday, 24 May 2021 12:04 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Wind power turbines are seen behind the Carbosulcis establishment in Carbonia, Italy, in August 30, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

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Italy aims to supercharge green energy schemes as sluggish progress so far threatens its climate targets and access to EU recovery cash

By Stephen Jewkes

MILAN, May 24 (Reuters) - Italy has drawn up a series of measures to speed up the time it takes to authorise new renewable energy projects, including the creation of special areas to build them in, a draft law showed.

Italy's complex approval process has slowed down the rollout of green energy schemes, threatening access to EU recovery funds and the achievement of climate targets.

Rome needs to install around 70 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 but is building just 0.8 GW per year, in large part due to red tape.

The government of Mario Draghi, which has put climate change at the heart of its agenda, is pushing through legislation to spur development.

A draft decree, seen by Reuters, gives Italian regions 120 days to identify "suitable areas" for green power generation plants where permitting will be easier.

The draft, expected to be approved this week, says the regions will not be able to declare the areas unsuitable at a later date.

Many solar and wind power projects in Italy have failed to win support from regional and local authorities on grounds they impact the landscape.

"It's no panacea on the face of it but it could help cut times. Local authorities have a lot of veto powers in this," says Davide Tabarelli, head of energy thinktank Nomisma Energia.

The draft decree also contains other measures to help streamline environmental impact permits and make it simpler to authorise energy storage and smaller solar facilities.

It also sets up, to 2026, a special supervisory committee at the Culture Ministry for projects included in Italy's Recovery Plan to access pandemic rebuilding funds from Brussels.

That plan, submitted to Brussels last month, includes a pledge to simplify bureaucratic procedures as part of reforms to unlock more than 200 billion euros ($244.24 billion) in grants and cheap loans.

Italy has passed numerous laws over the years aimed at cutting red tape but with little tangible effect.

($1 = 0.8189 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Jason Neely)

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