Renewables Mapping Guidance

A step-by-step approach

Europe’s new energy security agenda, triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, requires a dramatic acceleration of solar PV deployment: by 2030, Europe can deploy 1 TW of solar power, almost multiplying by four the number of PV panels installed.

This new pace of deployment is confronted with a key barrier: lengthy administrative permit-granting procedures. In particular, project-by-project environmental impact assessments and public consultations burden the administration and mean permitting procedures can take years to approve. It is critical to make these permitting procedures more efficient, while ensuring there is no compromise to biodiversity conservation and restoration, which is, together with climate change, one of the major challenges of the 21st century.


As part of the REPowerEU Strategy, the revised Renewable Energy Directive, adopted on 31st October 2023, proposes a streamlined process to accelerate the deployment and grid connection of renewable energy projects that are critical to ensure Europe’s energy independence. The text requires (Article 15b, and Article 15c) two exercises from Member States:

By 21st May 2025

Member States must perform a coordinated mapping for renewables: they must identify their renewable potential, as well as key areas and infrastructure available for sustainable renewable development (we call them “favourable areas”). The size of favourable areas shall be in line with the national renewable energy objective.


By 21st February 2026

Member States must designate a subset of the favourable areas as renewable acceleration areas (RAA). Those areas should be particularly suitable for the purpose of developing renewable energy projects, differentiating between types of technology, on the basis that the deployment of the specific type of renewable energy source is not expected to have a significant environmental impact; i.e. “no-regret” areas, where the environmental impact is expected to be the lowest. These areas will then undergo a “strategic” environmental impact assessment at area-level and further projects will benefit from an exemption of project level environmental impact assessments plus accelerated permitting procedures. In the designation of renewable acceleration areas, Member States should avoid protected areas and consider restoration plans and appropriate mitigation measures.


As the European Commission will publish a Guidance on Renewable Acceleration Areas in 2024, this mapping guidance sets up a series of key steps to perform renewable energy mapping which is compatible with deploying renewable energy, fighting climate change, and protecting or enhancing biodiversity.

Renewables Mapping Guidance: A step-by-step approach

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