Demand for acceleration of solar expansion

Leading Environment, Climate, and Nature Groups unite with solar sector in common call for sustainable solar acceleration

a man puts solar panels on a roof

House roofs still offer a lot of untapped potential for solar energy in Europe.

© Bill Mead/unsplash

Today, Birdlife Europe and Central Asia, CEE Bankwatch Network, CAN Europe, the European Environmental Bureau, EuroNatur, and SolarPower Europe have published a joint statement on the acceleration of sustainable solar. In light of the significant REPowerEU provisions on solar, the consortium of energy and environment actors have put forward common cornerstones for a nature-friendly energy transition, which maximises citizen participation.

The consortium sets out seven key asks to be considered in current EU discussions, to ensure both speed and quality of future solar projects:
1. Safeguard a minimum 45% renewables target for 2030 and aim for higher to be in line with the Paris Agreement.
2. Swiftly designate priority areas of lower environmental impact for a quick roll-out of PV
3. Allocate sufficient and trained staff for permit-granting at local and national levels
4. Simplify procedures, especially for building-integrated PV
5. Make the grid an essential element of planning and permit-granting
6. Ensure the implementation of existing environmental legislation
7. Involve citizens and local communities in the energy transition

Ariel Brunner, Deputy Director and Head of Policy BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, said; “Solar power needs a massive ramp-up. Making the energy transition a success requires speeding up licensing without compromising on actual safeguards for people and biodiversity. What we need are rapid planning and well-resourced licensing authorities. Blunt deregulation risks backfiring and playing into the hands of those opposed to renewable energy.”

Mark Martin, Executive Director, CEE Bankwatch Network commented; “It's clear that the EU needs to rapidly deploy renewable energy, but this cannot be at the expense of nature or without public participation. The biodiversity and climate crises are closely linked and have to be tackled together. Solar will play a leading role in this effort.”

Seda Orhan, Renewable Energy Campaign Coordinator, CAN Europe; commented: "Before the end of this decade, we will need a radical transformation of our energy system, an energy system that should receive at least a half of its supply primarily from solar and wind power while putting people participation and biodiversity protection at its heart. For this transformation to be a success, it will require climate, energy and biodiversity policies to be looked at holistically, and to reinforce each other." 

Cosimo Tansini, Policy Officer for Renewable Energy at the EEB said; “A faster roll-out of solar energy installations can be achieved by guiding development in combination with nature protection and public participation. The faster uptake of additional solar energy capacity is fundamental to enable local communities to play an active role in Europe’s energy transition."

Bruna Campos, Senior Policy Manager at EuroNatur stated; "Placing solar panels, especially on buildings, needs to be accelerated in Europe to mitigate against climate change. Accelerating solar energy does not need to be detrimental to nature; these can go hand in hand if appropriate environmental legislation and procedures are followed."

Jonathan Bonadio, Senior Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe said; “Solar and biodiversity protection go hand-in-hand, and the versatility of solar is a key enabler for citizen energy participation. This statement is a key tool to accelerate sustainable solar deployment.”


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