The Energy Community Secretariat and international environmental organization The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have formed a partnership to improve the planning and permitting procedures for renewable energy projects. Founded through a memorandum of understanding, it aligns with the Energy Community Treaty, which is based on principles of sustainable energy development.
As stated by both organizations, the memorandum aims to strengthen the sustainability of energy projects across the Energy Community, with a particular focus on renewable energy sources and streamlining permit procedures.
The necessity of the partnership stems from global concerns including climate change mitigation, energy security, and economic growth among Energy Community contracting parties, according to TNC.
“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”, said TNC Southeast Europe Program Director Dragana Mileusnić.
The Nature Conservancy added it would collaborate with the Energy Community Secretariat and experts on identifying suitable locations for renewable energy facilities.
In the European Union, member countries have committed to designating zones with low potential for conflicts in the context. Such areas have significant potential for green energy projects with minimal environmental impact. When the special zones are identified, the permit issuance process for renewable energy projects will be expedited, the statement reads.
Accelerating the development of renewable energy projects
The joint efforts aim to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects that do not conflict with other economic activities, such as agriculture and tourism, as stated in the press release.
To achieve climate goals, ensure energy security, and promote economic development in the Energy Community contracting parties, it is crucial to substantially increase the use of renewable energy sources, TNC said. It explained that it implies addressing the current permitting bottleneck as there are currently tens of gigawatts of solar and wind projects waiting for grid access.
Progress has already been made in Serbia and North Macedonia
The memorandum will augment current initiatives aimed at establishing such zones, building upon the progress already made in Serbia and North Macedonia, to expand the efforts throughout the Energy Community region, the organization pointed out.