Speedy wind developments

It takes on average 42 months to get building consent for a wind farm in the EU, with Italy, Belgium and the UK among the quickest countries, and Spain and Portugal among the slowest.

The findings were disclosed as the result of an EU-funded project called Wind Barriers, which was coordinated by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

The time needed for onshore wind-farm planning applications ranges across the EU from less than 10 months to well over 50. The reasons for this enormous gap vary, but include the high number of authorities to liaise with and the lack of clear administrative guidelines for developers.

Top of the table is Finland, with just over eight months needed to get permission to build a wind farm, followed by Austria (10 months), Romania (15 months) and Italy (18 months). The country where the patience of a wind developer is most challenged is Portugal, where over 58 months are needed on average to get permits. Also at the bottom of the list are Spain (57 months), Greece (50 months) and Poland (43 months).

The Wind Barriers project also investigated the number of authorities that need to be contacted in each country in order to obtain permission to build onshore. Denmark has the fewest authorities to contact, just five, whereas Greece has the most authorities to contact, with 41.

But there is not a direct correlation between the length of time it takes to get permission and the number of authorities that need to be contacted. Spain, for example, is one of the countries with the least number authorities that need to be contacted (only nine), but is one of the slowest – taking an average of over 57 months to get permission to build a wind farm.

The experience in the offshore sector is, so far, more positive. The average time to get the green light is 18 months, much lower than onshore.