By Stephane Mahe

SAINT-NAZAIRE, France (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said he will cut red tape to halve the time it takes in France to get renewable projects off the ground, stressing that was crucial at a time when Europe faces a serious energy crunch amid the war in Ukraine.

Macron, who said in February that he wants France to have about 50 offshore wind farms by 2050, was visiting the country’s first, built off Brittany, a project which took ten years to build and which started being connected to the grid this month.

“It still takes too much time in France,” Macron said, adding that he wants to halve the time it takes to develop renewable energy projects.

Macron had so far largely focused on plans to further beef up the world’s most nuclear-intensive country’s nuclear energy sector, which is plagued by corrosion problems.

But after a summer of drought, heat waves and fires, he stressed on Thursday that France needs to get serious about renewable energy and speed up processes, including slashing down how long it takes for judicial authorities to examine complaints local communities often file against such projects.

Macron said that while the government was encouraging more energy sobriety, France would have to massively increase its electricity generating capacity as it wants to phase out the use of fossil fuel and replace it with low-carbon power.

“To do this, we will need about 40% more electricity by 2050,” Macron said.

Macron said he wants France to double the speed of building wind parks in France.

The government is set to adopt detailed proposals at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

The government wants the whole process for setting up an offshore wind farm – from first plans to it being operational – to be cut from 10 to 12 years now to six years, officials said, stressing that was the average in other European countries.

Other plans include making it easier to find locations to build wind farms or install solar energy panels. The latter could be built on the side of highways or on parking lots, officials said.

(Reporting by Stephane Mahe; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by GV De Clercq and Nick Zieminski)

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Sub-Prefecture in Saint-Nazaire after a visit at the Saint-Nazaire offshore wind farm, off the coast of the Guerande peninsula in western France, September 22, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/Pool