May 16 -- The European Union is considering relaxing environmental regulations for wind and solar projects so new capacity can be added more quickly, the Financial Times has reported, citing documents produced by Brussels.
According to these, companies active in the wind and solar installation business will no longer be required to do an environmental impact assessment for their projects as long as they are planned for so-called go-to areas that EU members will be mandated to select in sufficient amounts to meet the EU’s emission reduction targets.
Before an area is classified as a go-to one, a “strategic” impact assessment will be conducted for each area, according to the report.
“Lengthy and complex administrative procedures are a key barrier for investments in renewables and their related infrastructure,” the document said, according to the FT. It also admits that this plan could “result in the occasional killing or disturbance of birds and other protected species.”
Europe has been scrambling to find alternative energy supplies as it seeks to reduce or even eliminate its heavy dependence on Russian fossil fuels. As part of these efforts, it has doubled down on plans to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels as a whole and replace them with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
The EU’s renewable power drive got a boost this week with a report from a climate nonprofit, Ember, which said that switching from Russian oil and gas to oil and gas from other sources would end up costing the bloc some $214 billion by 2030.
“Decades of over-reliance on fossil gas has made Europe incredibly vulnerable to volatile prices,” said Tara Connolly, a senior gas campaigner at Global Witness, an anti-corruption group that co-authored the report. “The Commission has massively underestimated the cost to consumers of continuing to rely on gas.”