Permits - Wind Energy
Within wind energy development, various permits are required to authorize project development. Regularly, the process of obtaining permits takes a long time as, for instance, it involves to contact different (and many) responsible authorities. With the concept of a so called "one-Stop-Shop" it is aimed at facilitating (among others) the application process.
Overview of Possibly Required Permits
Required permits among others depend on the capacities of the wind mill. Additionally, permits can be required from different addressees, e.g. on local level, federal, national level.
Permits might be:
- permit for site visit, allowing as well to take measurements
- planning permit
- land use permit/approval
- building permit/installation permit/zone permit
- environmental impact assessment (EIA)
- interconnection agreements
A one-stop shop can be considered as a focal point for business and investors with an interest in developing and financing renewable energy projects. Such an entity would aim at providing the necessary information and support required by developers and financiers.
The one-stop shop can either exist simply as an information portal or it could actually take a proactive approach to assist developers navigate the complicated licensing and permit requirements. It is noted that these services and functions may not be required by all developers, especially the larger developers who would have much greater internal infrastructures to develop
projects, however the aim would be to provide a range of services and information to a wide range of clients based on the needs of those clients.
As an information dissemination entity, the one-stop would be web-based as well as providing experienced staff for one-to-one support. The website for the one-stop shop would be home to a comprehensive process map, which would illustrate the steps a project developer must execute in order to fulfil the necessary licensing and permitting requirements.
In addition to the process map, the one-stop shop could provide contact information for all the relevant regulatory bodies overseeing the different steps, e.g. EIA, construction permits, interconnection and generation licensing, etc. The one-stop shop could also provide information regarding the requirements of local municipalities, and advise on the necessary steps project developers would have to execute outside of e.g. provincial control or jurisdiction, such as securing a Generation Licence from the Regulator, a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or a grid interconnection. Other issues could include a heritage assessment.
The one-stop shop entity would be mandated and designed to provide guidance on all key issues necessary to kick start and fast track renewable energy power projects.
Should a more pro-active approach be required, this could take the form of directly supporting and guiding developers in their applications through the various regulatory requirements or helping to resolve conflicts arising with licensing and permitting bodies.
As well as providing support to developers and investors, the one-stop shop could also be able to provide support to municipalities within the e.g. Province that are looking to promote and encourage the development of renewable energy projects.
The one-stop shop could initially be established under an existing institution, in order to reduce set-up and operation costs, but with the possibility of establishing a dedicated stand alone entity at some point in the future should the need arise.
The one-stop shop will be a vital institution to support the implementation of the priority measures for the development of renewable energy, establish a long-term sustainable clean energy industry and local enterprise opportunities, and contribute to addressing national barriers to renewable energy development in the country.
International and Local Examples
There are a number of local and international examples of one-stop shop entities that have been used to promote and support the development of renewable energy. A review of key examples provides insight into the various solutions that have been developed to streamline the project development process. There examples range from a simple information dissemination portal to more complex engagements where the one-stop shop has been designated to provide certain local, regional or national approvals, or to act as mediator with other institutions.
There are examples of how responsibilities could be bundled so that project developers and financiers have a single point of contact which is designed to provide information and sometimes approvals for renewable energy projects. The one-stop shop can act as a focal point when applying for permission for a wind power plant or other renewable energy projects, rather than several different and sometimes conflicting authorities. The approval process for renewable energy projects, in particular wind energy, differs largely from country to country. There are also variations within countries in different regions, states, provinces or municipalities, on the regulations and procedures to be followed for developing a wind farm. There are often varying specific regional laws and regulations; a one-stop shop can assist in reducing the delays and confusion by providing a single point of contact for project developers where information is simplified and aggregated.
In the UK, there has been some action to develop one-stop shops to help combat some of the barriers to wind and other renewable energy development. The UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has developed a Renewable Energy Strategy and the Office for Renewable Energy Deployment which acts as a one-stop shop and information portal. The website for this initiative is called UK Renewables: Growing the UK capability for a global market (see ukrenewables.com/ for more information). This is a one-stop shop provides a variety of different information for policymakers, project developers and investor. UK Renewables is a Government service that utilises trade promotion in coordination with UK Trade and Investment, Regional Development Agencies and Devolved Administrations to facilitate the growth of UK renewable energy industry both national and on a world-scale. The main goal is to assist and support the achievement of the UK’s 2020 renewable energy targets.
The UK Renewables service supports individual private companies that are looking to expand into the renewable energy industry and assist those which have already developed projects. The UK one-stop shop does this by providing all the required information, advice and contacts which individuals and companies would need.
The overall aim of this one-stop shop is to help:
- promote the UK as a premier destination for investment in the wind energy market;
- communicate the latest developments in UK renewable energy policy and important information for investors;
- showcase all the benefits the UK has to offer which includes natural resources, business environment, infrastructure, policy frameworks, financial support mechanisms, existing manufacturing industries and more; and
- facilitate business opportunities by working closely with other UK Government entities, potential investors and ensuring lead points of contact are shared.
The BWEA has developed a web-based one-stop shop for small-scale wind turbines (see bwea.com for further information). This is a portal that provides interested parties with relevant information, although it does not offer services to assist with approval procedures or liaising with authorities. The information offered ranges from a market overview of available small-scale systems, a wind speed database, advice on the
permitting process, grant programmes for small-scale renewables, and experience and lessons learned from existing projects.
In addition to the BWEA, there are also some local initiatives of one-stop shops, for example Renewable Energy for Devon (RE4D). RE4D is a partnership providing free independent advice and support for small scale renewable energy projects.
RE4D is a local one-stop shop that provides a range of services including:
- assisting to identify potential renewable energy options;
- assessing technologies and installers;
- developing a financial case for renewable energy projects;
- accessing grants and loans for projects;
- address planning issues related to different renewable energy projects; and
- providing information about the renewable energy market, businesses, communities, households and the public sector that are engaged in project development and financing.
There are also not-for-profit companies working as regional one-stop shops due to limited national support for streamlining permitting, zoning, licensing, and EIA reporting. An example of a regional UK one-stop shop is Regen SW Energy Agency, which services the South West England, providing sustainable energy solutions and assisting with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The agency’s mission is to speed up the transition to a low-carbon economy in South West England by:
- unlocking sustainable-energy business opportunities;
- accelerating the uptake of the region's renewable energy resources; and
- leading effective energy efficiency initiatives in the region.
The SW Energy Agency is a one-stop shop for the sustainable energy industry in the region and gives independent advice to decision makers and also works with renewable energy developers.
The agency also supports demonstration projects across a range of technologies at both a micro and utility scale and assists in stimulating public debates about sustainable energy resources. The SW Energy Agency is quite a comprehensive one-stop shop that engages with businesses, local authorities, and residents and communities looking to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Municipal or State Level Renewable Energy Bodies: USA
Early in 2009, US President Barack Obama signed the federal stimulus package (Recovery and Reinvestment Act) which makes provision for energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy. On a state level this has translated into a gearing up of both existing energy offices as well as independent corporations, such as the California Centre for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), for
streamlined facilitation of new renewable energy initiatives.
An example of a state-level energy agency is the South Carolina Energy Office. The Energy Office presents itself on its website as a renewable energy one-stop shop .
However, unlike Denmark it does not offer an online application procedure for potential developers. It is a collaborative initiative between state and federal governmental departments, as well as a number of key stakeholders in the public private sector, such as the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development (CIECD). The South Carolina Energy Office has numerous services it offers to project developers, residents, local businesses, and financiers. The primary service that is marked as a one-stop shop, offers monthly meetings where interested parties may schedule private appointments with the necessary agents. These hosted monthly meetings provide important background information, a step-by-step analysis of state incentives and requirements, and concisely answer questions that may be raised by project developers or financiers.
The South Carolina Energy Office as organisation provides far more detail than just renewable energy information. It is a comprehensive source covering all details related to energy. This includes information on funding sources and incentives for energy efficiency and renewables, energy education, technical assistance for energy audits, green building design and construction, energy bill assistance, research and development information, alternative transportation fuels, information covering councils and trade associations, job opportunities, and much more. As part of the energy office’s information dissemination it provides hyperlinks on its website to other relevant information sources.
One noteworthy hyperlink connects users to an exhaustive database listing state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies for the promotion renewable energy in the region. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) is funded by the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and features a particularly useful option to search the site by incentive type, technology type, or sector (among other variables). The database makes it simple for project developers to gain insight into investment opportunities. A regional one-stop shop entity similar to the South Carolinian Energy Office would be a highly useful tool to be developed within the Western Cape Province in a South African context.
Government level renewable energy bodies: Denmark, the UK and Germany.
Denmark is hailed internationally as being a global leader when it comes to streamlining renewable energy project development. The Danish Energy Agency’s one-stop shop offer investors an ‘A’ to ‘Z’ of services including:
- tendering of bids for renewable energy project construction;
- approval of pre-investigation of sites;
- environmental impact assessments;
- construction and operation; and
- licensing to produce energy.
The one-stop shop has significantly reduced the lead time for the development of renewable energy projects in Denmark. The one-stop shop in Denmark has gone far beyond just an information portal that assists with advising project developers and financiers. The Danish example of a one-stop shop helps to simplify the siting process for renewable energy projects (mainly on
and offshore wind farms) and assists in reducing project uncertainty and risk. It is therefore not surprising that Denmark has positioned itself as a leading authority in wind farm project development. Denmark has the largest portfolio of wind farm projects, generating approximately 20 percent of national electricity using wind.
Denmark has taken proactive steps in developing regulatory legislation dating back as far as 1992 to streamline the implementation of renewable energy, mainly wind power. Due to this proactive regulation, Denmark has not only become a world leader in project implementation, but this has led Denmark to being the world’s leader in wind turbine technology. In 2005 Denmark exported US$7.45 billion in wind energy technology and equipment.
Offering less exhaustive, but still practical, services are the Trade and Investment Departments of the UK and Germany. Renewable energy is listed as one of many investment opportunities within these countries. These countries have taken ambitious steps both on a state or regional level as well as nationally to speed up the facilitation of renewable energy project development. With ambitious regional and national goals to diversify energy supplies and assert themselves as major investment locations for renewable energy development, the UK and Germany have positioned themselves as key destinations for financiers looking for sound investment opportunities in projects and as a major exporter of equipment and project development expertise.
Both countries offer to help investors make connections, meet potential business partners and provide advice for attaining financial incentives. The British case takes this a step further by offering interested parties an opportunity to meet with investment agents in their home countries, provided that it is a location with a British Consul.
African and Global Renewable Energy Bodies – MEDREC and REEEP
In a move to develop a sustainable renewable energy market system in the greater Mediterranean Region a number of countries (Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisian, and Italy) and multilateral partners (The United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and The Observatoire Méditerranéen de l'Energie (OME)) came together in 2004 to form MEDREC. The countries represented by MEDREC additionally have their own local energy agencies but have recognised an opportunity for enhanced regional benefits through a collaborative body which highlights the investment appeal of the greater area. It is staffed by nine technical experts from within these countries.
The body seeks to:
- Promote and develop renewable energy projects within the Mediterranean area;
- Develop finance sources and mechanism options to support renewable energy projects (for example the advancement of tradable renewable energy certificates); and
- Create networks between countries within the region through the exchange of experiences, knowledge and technology.
MEDREC is a regional focal point of the global Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP). This multilateral organisation’s goal is to “accelerate the global market for sustainable energy by acting as an international and regional enable, multiplier and catalyst to change and develop sustainable energy systems” (www.reeep.org). It works with government, NGOs and businesses to facilitate the growth of the renewable energy sector and importantly hosts databases upon which project developers can source information as to the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats encompassed within particular markets.
The Southern Africa regional focal point of REEEP is located within the South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI). REEEP-SA provides a link to an invaluable international service which assists project developers in assessing the local market, and finding potential partners and experts to implement renewable energy projects. It is therefore highly recommended
that the Regional Secretariat of REEEP-SA is engaged in or made aware of future activities in the Western Cape Provincial renewable energy one-stop shop.
One-Stop Shops in South Africa
One-stop shops in South Africa are also not a new concept and the South African Government and the Western Cape Provincial Government have experience in developing and operating one-stop shops. This is important expertise which should be investigated and leveraged where possible for developing a new provincial renewable energy one-stop shop.
l Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provides a one-stop shop for investors, offering a variety of services to those interested in conducting business in South Africa.
The DTI provides a range of different services and informative details. These details range from covering the regulations of how to do develop a business in South Africa to information about the country’s economy, legislation and regulations, and news and events.
An important aspect of the DTI is the investment facilitation services for international investors. The facilitation services are quite comprehensive and provide all the details that one would require for conducting business in South Africa, which could include the establishment of a business to develop renewable energy projects.
The DTI’s investment facilitation services include, but are not limited to the following:
- information on South African major economic sectors and industries;
- consultation and advice on South Africa’s regulatory environment;
- economic statistics and modelling;
- facilitation of investment missions;
- links to joint venture partners in South Africa;
- information on incentive packages and funding opportunities for investors;
- assistance with work permits; and
- logistical support for relocation to South Africa.
The Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) Division works under the umbrella of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and provides a one-stop shop for investors and exporters at a national level. The TISA’s primary mission is to increase South Africa’s capability and capacity to promote targeted markets and increase and retain foreign and domestic direct investment.
TISA has a three-pronged investment strategy that has been adopted to provide high-level investment performance which includes:
- the development of Industrial Development Zones (IDZs) that are duty-free processing zones around coastal or inland ports for dedicated exporters;
- the development of special incentive packages, both new and more effective incentives to match those being offered by competitor countries; and
- policy input for the creation of an investor-friendly environment comprising of active engagement in the policy debate to improve the overall investment climate.
The Western Cape Provincial Government also has experience in developing and operating a similar one-stop shop for domestic and foreign investors looking to capitalise on and tap into the business potential of the Western Cape Province. Wesgro is the official investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape Province. According to Wesgro’s website, it is the “first
point of contact for foreign importers, local exporters and investors wishing to take advantage of the unlimited business potential” in the Western Cape Province.
Wesgro is a one-stop shop for the local and foreign business community. It provides much of the information and guidance companies and individuals are looking for when developing business opportunities in the Western Cape. The important detailed information dissemination and guidance includes identifying incentives and funding, liaising with regulatory institutions and government departments to resolve bottlenecks to developing business opportunities, and linking potential local and foreign individuals who are looking to develop joint venture partnerships.
Lessons Learnt and Conclusions from International Examples
It is clear from investigating one-stop shops both within South Africa and internationally that they provide an important function and added value. One-stop shops assist in supporting those companies and organizations that are looking to develop and invest in business opportunities within the context of regulatory frameworks established by policymakers and legislation.
The international examples of a one-stop shop reveal some interesting approaches. Some one-stop shops have not only been developed as information portals, but have been mandated by a top-down approach from centralised government to implement legislation to streamline approval and planning procedures for renewables. Some examples have concentrated the administrative procedures for large wind power plants in one area, but left certain key responsibilities, especially with regard to demarcating suitable sites for wind turbine projects, with the local and regional administrative bodies.
It is quite clear that the importance of a successful renewable energy regulatory development plan is communication and simplified procedures. The success of a Regulatory Action Plan will depend on how well it integrates multiple procedures in a one-stop shop with an aim to also engage with national entities to identify and address barriers to renewable energy implementation.
One-stop shops have important major components, which is what makes them such effective tools in helping develop business opportunities.
The main aspects to a one-stop shop include the following:
- providing a source for information dissemination about the specific rules and regulations of the market structure;
- supporting potential investors in achieving all relevant permissions
- constantly updating market participants with new regulations and policies affecting a particular market;
- application processing and streamlining of administrative procedures;
- helping authorities to streamline administrative procedures; and
- helping companies, individuals, and organisations such as project developers, investors and regulators to connect and team up to work together towards a particular goal in a specific market.
- content from: see e.g.: GTZ 2009: Development of Implementation Strategies for a Regional Regulatory Action Plan (RRAP) for the Western Cape. http://www.gtz.de/de/dokumente/gtz2009-en-regional-regulatory-action-plan-western-cape.pdf, One-Stop Shop pp. 60