In promoting renewable energy options, the environmental problem of GHG emissions should not be replaced with other environmental problems. Large-scale renewable infrastructure projects in particular – from offshore wind farms to concentrated solar towers to hydropower installations – need to be accompanied by adequate environmental and social impact assessments. For policies, plans and programmes around renewable energy investments, strategic environmental assessments should be applied. Such assessments will increasingly need to consider the changing nature of supporting ecosystem services and the need for climate adaptation. Financing institutions should promote appropriate safeguards, supported by capacity building activities from international organizations, including IRENA, in order to unleash the full sustainable potential of renewable energy options. This paper explores the experiences of applying impact assessment tools and processes to renewable investments and highlights some of the key aspects which should be taken into consideration when pursuing a renewable energy future.