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Land Availability a Potential Barrier to EU Climate Goals

New research has highlighted the need for the EU to “safeguard sufficient land” for renewable energy projects if the bloc is to achieve its climate targets. Consultancy firm McKinsey noted that the renewable energy capacity targets of France, Germany and Italy alone would require a land area up to the size of Belgium (23,000 to 35,000 kilometres). More than 90% of targeted additional energy capacity will need to be supplied by wind and solar, McKinsey said, noting that both require “large tracts of usable land”. However, a lot of land across Europe is precluded from development due to strict regulations and environmental limitations, the report said, noting that only 9% of available land in Germany is suitable for wind and less than 1% of land in Italy is suitable without limitations for solar PV. The McKinsey report outlined actions to mitigate the risk of bottlenecks when identifying and securing land for development, including maximising potential developments at existing installations and innovating to preserve biodiversity at project sites. Raffael Winter, Partner at McKinsey, said: “The role that land availability plays in the energy transition cannot be underestimated, but we must also consider that land availability is crucial to other societal and environmental objectives, such as agriculture and biodiversity conservation. It’s vital for businesses and regulators across Europe to act hand in hand to ensure that development is land-efficient and biodiversity-enhancing by harnessing deployment strategies that can ensure sustainability and promote a comprehensive approach.” 



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