Rule changes to spur French wind power projects within months: minister

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2017 11:02 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - France will propose rule changes within six months that will remove administrative hurdles and speed the development of onshore wind power projects, its junior ecology minister said.

France, which depends on nuclear power for over 75 percent of its electricity needs, plans to ramp up the development of renewable energies during the five-year term of President Emmanuel Macron so as to reduce its dependence on atomic power.

Lagging its European peers, France plans to increase installed wind capacity to 15 GW by the end of next year from 12.3 GW as of June, and double that capacity to 26 GW by 2023.

"The French wind power sector is fragmented and mired by conflicts," Sebastien Lecornu, Secretary of State for Ecology told journalists on Friday, saying he had set up a ministerial working group to make proposals.

Lecornu said the working group will propose concrete directives on actions the government has to take so as to ease the process for investors.

Drawn-out administrative red tape, and conflicts pitting farmers, local authorities and even the defense ministry -- a major land owner -- against wind power developers, has seen some projects delayed for up to five years or more.

Lecornu added that cases linked to several projects were tied up in courts due to conflicts and it was not a good method to let judges systematically make decisions that impact projects.

The working group propose actions including the simplification of administrative procedures, particularly around land titles which have turned out to be the most contentious.

They will also make proposals on the fiscal regimes of on-shore wind projects and how benefits are distributed.

Lecornu said initial decisions, which will give visibility to investors, will be made by the end of January.

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Geert De Clercq)