Skip to main content
EU Science Hub

Go-to areas for wind and solar

Background

The Commission communication of 8 March 2022 “REPowerEU: Joint European Action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy” calls on Member States to swiftly map, assess, and ensure suitable land and sea areas that are available for renewable energy projects, commensurate with their national energy and climate plans, the contributions towards the revised 2030 renewable energy target and other factors such as the availability of resources, grid infrastructure, and the targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. 

The Commission proposal for a “Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive (EU) 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings and Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency” and the “Commission recommendation on accelerating permitting for renewable energy projects and facilitating Power Purchase Agreements” adopted on 18 May 2022 also provide for the identification of ’renewables go-to areas’. These are specific locations, whether on land or sea, particularly suitable for the installation of plants for the production of energy from renewable sources, other than biomass combustion plants, where the deployment of a specific type of renewable energy is not expected to have significant environmental impacts, in view of the particularities of the selected territory.

According to the proposal for a directive, in the identification of go-to areas Member States shall:

  • give priority to artificial and built surfaces, such as rooftops, transport infrastructure areas parking areas, waste sites, industrial sites, mines, artificial inland water bodies, lakes or reservoirs, and, where appropriate, urban waste water treatment sites, as well as degraded land not usable for agriculture;
  • exclude Natura 2000 sites and nature parks and reserves, the identified bird migratory routes as well as other areas identified based on sensitivity maps and the tools referred to in the next point, except for artificial and built surfaces located in those areas such as rooftops, parking areas or transport infrastructure;
  • use all appropriate tools and datasets to identify the areas where the renewable energy plants would not have a significant environmental impact, including wildlife sensitivity mapping.

To support Member States in identifying such “renewables go-to areas” for the rapid deployment of new installations for the production of energy from wind and solar, the Energy and Industry Geography Lab, from May 2022, provides an attractive visual representation of consolidated information on a wide range of relevant energy and environmental factors. 

The following datasets are now included in the Energy and Industry Geography Lab:

  1. Natura 2000 sites
  2. Nationally designated protected areas
  3. Ecologically or biologically significant marine areas
  4. Important bird areas
  5. Key biodiversity areas
  6. Underwater noise
  7. Peatlands
  8. Waste water treatment plants

Other relevant datasets will be added in the future. While Member States are responsible for the identification of the go-to areas, this mapping tool facilitates Member States in their task, by making available relevant datasets that extend across Europe in one single platform.

Further information

An explanatory note provides further information on how to use the different data layers for the identification of go-to areas as well as data limitations and knowledge gaps:

Accompanying note
English
(612.92 KB - PDF)
Download

 

Consult the data documentation and metadata with information on data provider, spatial and temporal resolution, and usage conditions for all datasets in the Energy and Industry Geography Lab.

Also available: a quickstart guide and a tutorial.

Data documentation

Please find below a short documentation of the datasets mentioned above with information about data providers and data sources as well as data processing steps.