Statement: The Nature Conservancy Welcomes EU Guidance to Accelerate the Renewable Energy Rollout - Now, Implementation is Key

New package of guidance from the European Commission signals important step towards timely, green and fair renewable acceleration

The Jasenice wind farm lies next to Croatia's Zrmanja river - offering the country an energy path that is both renewable and nature-positive
Wind turbines in Croatia Jasenice wind farm is sited next to Croatia's Zrmanja river - offering the country an energy path that is both renewable and nature-positive © Ciril Jazbec

Media Contacts

Today, nearly two years on from the publication of REPowerEU, the European Commission has unveiled guidance and recommendations to accelerate the renewable energy roll-out, including new guidance on Renewables Acceleration Areas (RAAs), as well as new guidance on auction design for renewable energy, marking a critical step towards an adequate implementation of the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

The publication of this guidance underscores a concerted effort to expedite the transition to renewable energy, while safeguarding environmental and social interests. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been advocating for a Europe-wide guidance to support a rapid, sustainable and equitable implementation of RED at country-level for a year, to complement our smart siting work together with siting experts, governments, industry and NGOs in various EU Member States as well as Energy Community Contracting Parties.

Under the RED, EU Member States have until February 2026 to designate RAAs as a subset of the overall spatial mapping Member States need to do by May 2025 to reach their 2030 renewable energy targets. The revised RED aims to accelerate European renewable energy deployment by limiting the overall environmental permitting to one year for projects on RAAs and to two years in areas outside of RAAs.

Rebecca Humphries, Head of Climate Policy for Europe at TNC, commends the Commission's initiative, emphasising its potential to bolster climate and biodiversity objectives and send clear market signals:

"Renewable Acceleration Areas have the potential to ensure both the EU's climate and biodiversity goals are met, by fast-tracking deployment of renewables in areas of low-conflict risk for biodiversity. With just under two years to go until Member States must finalise their designation plans, this new guidance is a crucial step in aligning expectations and understanding to effectively and successfully implement Renewable Acceleration Areas in a clear, credible and consistent manner. Since the adoption of the Renewable Energy Directive, we have been calling for clear guidance of this nature that can go a long way to ensuring a robust designation process for RAAs, which can help avoid conflicts that risk slowing down renewable deployment.

“The recommendation for Member States to pursue environmental protection and the restoration of ecosystems and other non-price criteria in renewable energy auctions is also a very positive step to accelerate investment in the expansion of nature-positive renewable energy. Further EU harmonisation of these criteria will send clear and consistent market signals, reward market leaders and avoid introducing unnecessary complexity posed by having to navigate potentially up to 27 different approaches across the EU.”

Elif Gündüzyeli, TNC’s Renewable Energy Programme Director for Europe, highlights how the guidance will help individual countries’ siting practices and can enable TNC's smart siting approach:

"The guidance is a big step in the right direction as it builds on our on-the-ground experience in Europe, including in Croatia, Portugal and Western Balkan countries, implementing our smart siting approach. European countries have a very tight timeline to do rapid, sustainable and equitable siting in order to accelerate renewables deployment. But they need to go smart to go fast. This means they need to use the timeline and guidance given by the EU to implement science-based siting methodologies while taking the time to engage communities and stakeholders adequately. Community and stakeholder engagement needs to happen early and genuinely, particularly since the renewable energy projects in RAA will be exempt from the Environmental Impact Assessment.

"The Commission's clarification on the role of Renewable Acceleration Areas as part of the broader national spatial mapping for renewables – as well as emphasis on the need for robust stakeholder and community engagement at early stages of project development – is very much welcome for ongoing siting efforts at the national level. It is now crunch time for relevant local, national and regional actors to collaborate in European countries for implementation that meets shared goals for people and planet.”

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 or follow @nature_press on Twitter.