Biodiversity

Eurelectric issues guide for integrating biodiversity in renewables, grid expansion projects

Guide for integrating biodiversity with green power plants and grid expansion

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Published

June 20, 2024

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Published:

June 20, 2024

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Climate change is the main cause of biodiversity loss. The European association of electricity companies, Eurelectric, has published a guide for electrification in harmony with nature. Electricity from renewable sources can become a key solution in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

The alarming loss of biodiversity is highlighted by the fact that one million species are at risk of extinction globally. In Europe, 80% of natural habitats are degraded. Climate change is the primary cause of biodiversity loss.

Decarbonization can reduce the risks of biodiversity loss by up to 75%. The renewable energy sector can do even more by integrating biodiversity measures into its renewable energy projects and networks.

Eurelectric has issued the first guide that provides companies developing renewable energy projects and power system operators with guidelines for including environmental protection measures.

The document was created in partnership with consulting firm WSP. In collaboration with 25 companies working in green energy and grid expansion, and with the development of 15 case studies where biodiversity was integrated into such endeavors, Eurelectric proposed a strategy comprising 12 principles.

The goal is to preserve biodiversity during spatial planning, the construction, operation and decomissioning of renewable electricity plants and grid systems. With a strategic process, appropriate resources, and effective mechanisms, investors can positively impact nature by prioritizing sustainability in their practices and activities, according to Eurelectric.

The principles are grouped into three categories. The first encompasses actions to mitigate negative impacts to make a measurable contribution to biodiversity conservation. Companies developing projects should do everything to prevent or minimize harm to nature. Where they fail to do so, they should restore native species affected by project activities.

The second category focuses on identifying the right measures both on and offsite. It involves collaboration with local communities, populations and national authorities, with a clear allocation of rights and responsibilities.

With the third group of principles, Eurelectric aims to bring long-term benefits and ensure the exchange of best practices among all relevant stakeholders and the broader public, striving for positive results for the wider ecosystem and communities.

Benefits of investing in business models for biodiversity enhancement

The benefits of investing in business models for biodiversity enhancement go beyond nature protection. Companies can improve their reputation and ensure societal acceptance of their projects. Additionally, the model reduces investment risks, giving investors greater confidence.

Projects developed in harmony with nature benefit local communities, strengthen resilience to climate change and disasters, and potentially reduce operational costs.

However, there are several challenges in integrating the principles. As much as 84% of companies in the study, developing green energy projects, consider integrating biodiversity costly, ranging from EUR 25,000 to EUR 280 million per project. Additionally, the availability of scientific data is limited, and there are no common guidelines or established standards for measuring nature protection, they pointed out.

Another common issue is the complexity of interactions between stakeholders from different fields whose goals, policies, and needs may clash.

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