In June, the first expert discussion within the framework of the “Wind” Ideas Lab: Just and effective development of wind energy in North-East Bulgaria” (within JustWind4All) was held. The topic was specifically dedicated to spatial planning approaches for wind development acceleration zones.
The meeting was attended by representatives of municipalities in Bulgaria and leading wind associations and investors, as well as individual independent researchers.
In the course of the discussion, a two-stage approach to mapping and identifying Renewable Energy Accelerated Zones was discussed in the following steps:
- Step 1: Identification of onshore and offshore areas needed for installation of renewable energy plants (according to national targets for 2030);
- Step 2: Identification of areas for Renewable Energy Acceleration Zones;
- Member States, in coordination with their local and regional authorities, shall adopt plans identifying Renewable Energy Acceleration Zones for one or more types of RES;
- Removal of administrative barriers and allocation of sufficient qualified human resources (if retraining, up-skilling, financing is needed);
- Using an ecosystem approach for marine spatial planning: during the process, Member States increase the space allocated to renewable energy generation in line with the 2030, 2040 and 2050 climate targets.
The discussion touched upon key issues as:
- Public databases and European wind maps to be further analysed by national and regional authorities with key involvement of relevant national institutions;
- Establishing rules for defining zones for accelerated deployment of RES, including mechanisms for monitoring and risk assessment;
- The role of the ministries involved is key not only at the strategic but also at the operational level;
- Planning should be carried out in a holistic way considering the whole energy mix;
- Opportunities for easing the timing of wind farm construction permits.
The issue of spatial planning of wind accelerated development zones is key to unlocking the country’s wind energy potential with the public debate yet to unfold.