The Energy Community Secretariat and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have announced a significant partnership to revolutionise renewable energy project planning and permitting processes. This landmark collaboration is cemented through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and aligns with the Energy Community Treaty's commitment to sustainable energy development.
The MOU's primary objective is to bolster the sustainability of energy projects across the Energy Community, with a particular emphasis on advancing renewable energy sources and streamlining permitting procedures. The urgency of this partnership stems from global concerns, including climate change mitigation, energy security, and economic growth among Energy Community Contracting Parties.
Dragana Mileusnić, TNC Southeast Europe Program Director, stated: "This partnership symbolises our dedication to a more environmentally responsible future, driven by renewable energy. Together, we will showcase how multi-sectoral collaboration can build capacity in Contracting Parties and accelerate the uptake of renewables that work for people and nature. It not only strengthens our efforts in the Western Balkans but also sets a precedent for broader adoption."
The Nature Conservancy, renowned for its proficiency in accelerating sustainable renewable energy projects, will work in close partnership with the Energy Community Secretariat and expert representatives to develop innovative solutions for identifying locations suitable for the installation of plants for the production of energy from renewable sources, known as 'Renewables Acceleration Areas'. This EU initiative is a new policy concept that reflects key aspects of TNC's pioneering Site Renewables Right approach, by requiring Member States to undertake spatial mapping to pre-designate low conflict zones where renewables permitting could be accelerated. The alliance will work diligently to craft the options to develop the one-stop shop and simplify and expedite the permitting process. The ultimate aim is to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy projects that coexist harmoniously with other economic activities.
To advance our climate goals, ensure energy security, and promote the economic development of the Energy Community Contracting Parties, a substantial increase in renewable energy sources - particularly wind and solar - is imperative. Addressing the current permitting bottleneck is paramount, given that there are tens of gigawatts of solar and wind projects currently awaiting grid access. The EU's introduction of the 'Renewables Acceleration Area', dedicated zones for renewable development with high potential and minimal environmental impact, serves as a model the Energy Community should soon embrace. The MOU will augment current initiatives aimed at establishing such zones, building upon the progress already made in Serbia and North Macedonia, with the goal of expanding these efforts throughout the Energy Community region.
This partnership marks a pivotal step towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future, fostering a balance between nature and progress within the Energy Community.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.