A total of 70 renewable energy projects - wind and photovoltaic - that aspire to be installed in the Islands have a clear path to do so. These are the ones that have obtained the positive environmental impact statement (EIS) from the Ministry of Ecological Transition, Fight against Climate Change and Territorial Planning of the Government of the Canary Islands and total 318.33 megawatts. Another 34 initiatives - 318.41 megawatts - see their permits for connection to the grid expire after the expiration of the deadline for administrative authorization given by the Ministry for Ecological Transition.
In view of the data offered this Wednesday by the Ministry, the first conclusion that can be drawn is that smaller projects have had it easier. The number of those that have managed to go ahead is more than twice the number of those that have fallen by the wayside and, nevertheless, the power of those approved is almost equal to that of those rejected.
Of the latter, ten (62.18 megawatts) did not pass through the environmental process, while the remaining 24 (256.23 megawatts) did not even reach this department. Prior to that, the General Directorate of Energy found problems that made their installation impossible. "Deficiency in the project, contravene the principles of general interest or because the promoter himself has desisted" are the reasons listed by the department headed by José Antonio Valbuena.
The communities rush to the last minute to avoid losing hundreds of renewable projects that expire this Wednesday Sara Ledo
To all the initiatives mentioned must be added another two (20.90 megawatts) - "exceptional cases", the ministry considers them - whose promoters submitted the documentation a few weeks ago
The law establishes a period of four months to resolve the file, so it did not compute for the purposes of this milestone and possible responsibilities because the application was not submitted with sufficient time," explains the regional government's communiqué.
What responsibilities does the note refer to? To those that could be requested by the developers who have seen their rights to connect to the grid vanish. It was the Ministry for Ecological Transition that established the deadlines and left the obligation to process all the files in time in the hands of the regional administrations.
According to its communiqué, the Ministry of Ecological Transition, Fight against Climate Change and Territorial Planning of the Government of the Canary Islands has processed all of them. Several investors consulted wonder, however, how it has been able to achieve this when slow processing is one of the usual problems they face.
Ribera puts pressure on the Canary Islands to get renewable projects out on time
J. Gutiérrez / D. Page "
We appreciate the efforts, but we do not understand why this point has been reached at the last minute," said the president of the Canary Islands Renewable Energy Association (ACER), Enrique Rodríguez de Azero, without wanting to "enter into further considerations". The assessment will come when he has "more data", but he did anticipate that some companies will probably end up taking the Administration to court.
Especially because when the Ministry established these deadlines, it also increased tenfold the cost of the guarantees to be deposited for the processing of access to the electricity grid. "We are talking about 40,000 euros per megawatt, that is, a project of ten megawatts has had to deposit 400,000 euros that now loses," details the president of ACER.
the opinion of his counterpart in the Wind Energy Business Association (AEE) in the Canary Islands, Rafael Martell, "the ministry erred in setting the deadlines". The regional administrations were already too saturated to increase the pace of work. However, Minister Teresa Ribera made it an absolute priority to scare off speculators who were hoarding access to the network with no other objective than to do business with them by selling them to developers who did need them.
But that black market was not as big as the third vice-president of the Spanish government calculated. There were more real renewable projects behind the approved hook-ups than she could have guessed. That is why her initiative, which businessmen applaud, but not the established expiry dates, led to a massive influx of projects in the energy and environment departments of all the autonomous communities.
No more deadline
At the end of last year, the state AEE requested a new grace period from the minister, but she held firm on January 25. Already in September there was a loss of connection permits throughout Spain. Granting more time now would mean opening the door to legal claims from developers who saw their rights vanish in the fall.
The guarantee to be deposited in order to have access to the grid is 4,000 euros per megawatt
No one can say that there has been a black hand or bad intentions in this", explains Martell. Expelling speculators seems to him to be a good measure. However, the promoters who decided to go ahead - there was an opportunity to desist without the guarantees being executed - have found an accelerated process and, in the opinion of the sector, will end up in court, even though the ministry says it has processed all the projects.
Now the time will come when investors will demand to know the parameters for the rejection of their wind and photovoltaic farms and will be left without the guarantees they deposited.
Unknowns for the future
The unknown to be solved now is what happens with those 318.41 megawatts that had already processed the access to the network but do not find the support of a wind farm or a photovoltaic plant with administrative authorization. Logically, they should be left free to await new initiatives. However, the process is not so simple and much less automatic. To begin with, the president of ACER, Enrique Rodríguez de Azero, points out that all those owned by companies that decide to take the rejection of their projects to court will remain "captive until there is a judicial resolution". On the other hand, his counterpart in the AEE, Rafael Martell, recalls that the change in the rules of the game introduced by the Ministry for Ecological Transition also entailed a new way of calculating the parameters to achieve access to the grid. A first survey of the sector estimates that 90% of the accesses will be impossible to award in a new distribution. | J.G.H.