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Green Light for Wind Power Projects in Hungary

In December 2023, the Hungarian Government significantly eased the regulatory conditions for the establishment of wind turbine projects in Hungary in order to comply with EU requirements and enhance the utilization of green energy.

Amended regulations

The new regulations provide robust guarantees for the enforcement of considerations related to urban, environmental, agricultural, and landscape protection. Technological developments observed in recent years have improved the expected return on investment for wind power projects. Previously, projects initiated under the mandatory offtake system (KÁT) offered favourable, state-guaranteed returns, but were suspended. Today, these projects must be developed in a more market-oriented environment. The main constraint of the previous regulations was the prohibition of placing wind turbines within 12 kilometres of inhabited areas, coupled with various technical requirements that developers could not meet either technically or financially.

As per the amendments to the law, wind turbines cannot be located within the 700-meter protective zone from the designated urban area and its borders, as opposed to the previous 12-km limit. Exceptions are made for industrial areas serving projects of national economic importance. Outside the protective zone, wind turbines cannot be established in areas of excellent agricultural potential, landscape-protected areas, or areas designated for potential world heritage sites. The Government can designate simplified regions in areas where wind energy intensity at a height of 150 meters exceeds 500 watts per square meter. This designation may streamline the approval process, with a maximum processing time of 50 days in the environmental and construction permit procedures. Local municipalities can identify areas for wind turbine installation in their local building regulations, exempting them from general building height limits. Draft regulations are reviewed by government offices and state chief architects. After the acceptance of local building regulations, areas designated for the installation of wind turbines with a capacity of 5-49 megawatts (MW) need to be reclassified as zones for the installation of renewable energy in county spatial development plans. For turbines with a larger capacity, the modification must be reflected in the national spatial development plan. The investor can initiate the modification of the urban development plan or propose an urban development authority procedure at the government offices. The construction of the wind turbine is possible upon the successful completion of subsequent phase-specific permitting procedures.

The planned starting time

The process from selecting the appropriate property till the start of the operation of the wind power system may take 4-5 years. The first grid connection of energy generated by wind power is expected around 2029, based on current governmental forecasts.

Advantages of wind power installation

Wind turbines require only 1% of the land area compared to solar power systems to produce the same amount of electricity. In other words, what solar parks generate on 10,000 square meters, wind turbines can achieve with only 100 square meters. Accuracy of this comparison depends on specific conditions and technological advancements in both wind and solar energy. With a significant boost in harnessing wind energy domestically, there is a substantial step towards balancing the fluctuating weather-dependent production when coupled with solar energy. The wind blows even in the evening and bad weather, compensating for the lack of sun power generation during those times.

Currently, Hungary has 328 MW of operational wind power capacity. This figure is predicted to increase four to five times in the coming years, thanks to the green light for wind power projects in Hungary.