Land Use & Permitting

Solar, Biodiversity, Land Use: Best Practice Guidelines

Reaching the REPowerEU objectives will require deploying, at fast pace, additional large-scale solar PV projects on the ground.

Yet the process of obtaining permits for those projects remains too lengthy: in some European countries it can take up to 4 years to obtain a permit for solar projects. Procedures are overly bureaucratic, lacking digitialisation and result in a high burden for project developers. Public acceptance concerns that are not anticipated or considered early enough in the process can effectively slow down the deployment of projects, or halt deployment entirely.

Realising those projects will require accessing additional land. However, if well planned and well designed, these projects can unlock benefits for local communities and consumers. This can also help to minimise impacts on biodiversity and the environment, and even contribute to nature restoration.

Promoting innovative solar solutions that allow for dual use of land and positive environmental benefits will be key. Agrisolar, referring to the integration of solar PV projects within an agricultural activity, promotes sustainable agricultural practices, while providing positive benefits to land. Another innovative solution is floating solar which helps to prevent algae proliferation and reduces water evaporation on water bodies.

Delivering on the REPowerEU ambition of 750GW of solar by 2030 would require less than 1% of Europe’s arable land, 10 times less than bioenergy (source: European Commission, Friends of Europe).

Well-designed solar parks can enhance local biodiversity, protect endangered animals and plant species, support soil regeneration and restore disrupted ecosystems.

Agrisolar systems enable a more efficient use of land, protects the crops and can even restore biodiversity below the PV panels.

Installing floating solar on just 10% of the water reservoirs in Europe could lead to over 200 GWp (source: World Bank).

The Land Use & Permitting workstream

The Land Use & Permitting workstream

The Land Use & Permitting Workstream works at overcoming bottlenecks on land deployment and permitting of solar projects. The Workstream leverages the knowledge of the RES SIMPLIFY project, an EU-funded project aiming at having a better understanding of permit-granting procedures across the EU and identifying the best practices in implementing EU law with regards to permit-granting.

Solar and biodiversity can work in perfect harmony, having a positive impact on the surrounding flora and fauna. The Workstream promotes best practices in close coordination with environmental and biodiversity NGOs, to ensure solar projects respect, protect and promote biodiversity.

Our aim is to promote innovative and integrated PV solutions, such as agrisolar, agriPV and floating PV. Agrisolar refers to the integration of solar PV projects within an agricultural activity. Agrivoltaic (or AgriPV) systems are agrisolar solutions where a PV installation and a sustainable agricultural activity are co-located, and light management is performed such as the PV systems shading crop, adapted ground mounted systems to co-locate grain cultivation or in co-location with animal grazing, and PV installations on greenhouses. Floating PV (or FPV) refers to solar installations on water bodies, allowing an efficient use of land and positive environmental benefits (prevention of algae proliferation).

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Our major accomplishments

Land Use & Permitting accomplishments

  • Publication of first Agrisolar Best Practice Guidelines
  • Dissemination of Agrisolar to European and member state audiences
  • European Commission launches first Horizon Europe Call dedicated to Agrivoltaics
Interview with Eva Vandest, chair of workstream

European ambition and goals for solar energy has increased exponentially to achieve the energy transition. In order to successfully achieve those targets, the solar sector has to be an example and leader in sustainable development, respectful of nature and European citizens. The Land Use and Permitting Workstream will share experience, expertise and recommendations to increase best practices in land management through a specific focus on biodiversity and dual-use business models like Agrisolar and Floating PV.

Read the interview
Land Use & Permitting workstream Chair
Land Use & Permitting workstream Vice Chair
Members of the Land Use & Permitting workstream