The German Bundestag and Bundesrat today adopted the rules implementing the EU Emergency Regulation (Regulation EU 2022/2577). This will further speed up the procedures to expand renewable energy and the electricity grids. In parallel with the amendment of the Regional Planning Act (Act Amending the Regional Planning Act and Other Regulations), the relevant rules were implemented in the Act on the Need for Wind Energy Sites, the Offshore Wind Energy Act, the Energy Industry Act and the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.

Minister Habeck said: “The Bundesrat today adopted rules speeding up renewables and grid expansion to an unprecedented degree. The implementation of the EU’s Emergency Regulation will accelerate procedures even further. It will serve to give renewable energy expansion another major boost. The new rules will work hand in hand with the 2022 revised version of the RES Act, higher maximum rates at auctions for wind and solar energy and a number of other changes to speed up procedures. These measures give the Länder and the licensing authorities the legal basis they need to push ahead with expanding renewables – in particular wind power – as quickly as possible. I am sure they will make good use of this because they know about the three-fold urgency: renewables help to mitigate climate change, they help safeguard Germany’s economic future, and they also provide security.”

The EU Emergency Regulation sets out exceptions from a number of procedural steps – a measure geared towards boosting renewable energy expansion across the EU. The decisions taken today by the German Bundestag and Bundesrat serve to consistently implement the new rules into national law.

The EU Emergency Regulation applies to all licensing procedures for onshore and offshore wind turbines and grids with a nominal voltage of 110 kV or higher that begin before 30 June 2024. Licensing procedures that have already begun can also benefit from these simplifications under certain conditions. Operators of ground-mounted PV installations can freely decide to opt in and thus also benefit from the simplifications.

The following rules will be implemented: for areas designated for renewable energy or grid development that have already undergone a strategic environmental assessment (SEA), no environmental impact assessment (EIA) or species protection law review will be required. In order to protect biodiversity, the competent authority will ensure that the operator implements appropriate and proportionate prevention and mitigation measures. Particularly where no such measures are in place, operators will have to make a financial contribution to a species protection programme. An assessment will be made based on existing data (no new data collection). The requirements of the Birds, Habitats and EIA Directives will be suspended for the scope of the Ordinance.

For ground-mounted PV installations that have already undergone a strategic environmental assessment (SEA), no environmental impact assessment (EIA) will be required where operators have opted in. However, a species protection law review will still be required.

The EU Emergency Regulation also includes a number of rules that are directly applicable and do not have to be transposed into national law.

  • Where repowering measures take place, the EIA is only conducted as a delta test, i.e. the additional stress of the new installation or power line is assessed compared to that generated by the existing set-up. In the case of solar plant repowering, the obligation for an EIA to be conducted may not apply under certain circumstances.
  • The licensing procedures for the installation of designated solar installations will take three months at most. PV installations that are built on artificial structures no longer require an EIA. For installations below 50 kW, a tacit approval applies.
  • The licensing procedures for the installation of heat pumps with an electrical output of less than 50 MW will take one month at most, and three months at most for geothermal heat pumps. In addition, a rule permitting heat pumps of up to 12 kW and heat pumps installed by a self-consumer of up to 50 kW to be connected to the grid is established.

A paper providing an overview of the measures that will be implemented as part of the EU Emergency Regulation can be found here.