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In this paper, we show that an area-based approach to fostering the ‘energy transition’ has potential to help spatial planners and policy makers understand how innovative sustainable energy initiatives may contribute to the energy transition. On the basis of a desk study of research reports on energy initiatives and empirical data gathering through interviews with energy initiatives, we witnessed that local energy initiatives benefit from linkages with their local physical and socio-economic landscape. Furthermore, if various of such local energy initiatives spread and upscale the image emerges of what we coin an ‘integrated energy landscape’: a multifunctional physical and socio-economic landscape of which energy systems are an integrated part. We argue that such image helps to understand the complex processes of a transition towards sustainable energy systems and is therefore promoted as potential guidance for planners and policy makers involved in the ‘energy transition’.