By Bate Felix
PARIS (Reuters) - The French government on Thursday announced a ten-point plan which will simplify administrative procedures and accelerate the development of wind power projects in order to double its installed generation capacity by 2023.
The government said the proposed reforms will cut in half the average time it takes for wind power projects to be completed and connected to the French electricity grid.
If successful, it could counter long-running opposition from activists who have frustrated the country's attempts to reach renewable energy targets, which include aiming to have up to 26 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind generation capacity by 2023 compared to 12.9 GW currently.
Global installed wind energy capacity has grown on average by 22 percent a year since 2006 as countries turn to low-carbon sources to produce electricity.
Renewables, including wind, solar, bioenergy, hydropower and wave and tidal energy, could account for nearly 30 percent of the global energy mix in five years' time, according to the International Energy Agency.
"Currently it takes seven to nine years to develop offshore wind projects," said French junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu, who added that the reforms would halve that time.
French activists opposed to wind farms have been systematically filing appeals against wind projects through administrative courts. Those courts take years to hear cases, thus delaying the completion of projects.
"The direct consequence of this is a lengthening of the time it takes to complete a project -- seven to nine years on average -- compared to three to four years in Germany," the government said in a statement regarding its new proposals.
Some 70 percent of authorized projects are facing appeals in Administrative Tribunals courts, the government said, adding that its reforms would remove a level of jurisdiction in the appeals process.
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)