Eurelectric issues guide to protect biodiversity in renewable and grid projects

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 6/13/2024, Location: Europe

Eurelectric presents a first-of-a-kind guidebook for sustainable deployment of grid and renewable projects. The guide, developed by WSP, elaborates 12 key principles for biodiversity and environmental protection and contains real-life case studies as well as concrete steps for developers to follow when siting, planning, building, operating and decommissioning renewables or grid projects.

Biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate with 1 million species at risk of extinction globally. In Europe, 80% of natural habitats are degraded while climate change quickly becomes the leading driver of biodiversity loss. These twin challenges need to be handled in an integrated way. WWF confirms that renewable-led decarbonisation can lower risks to biodiversity by 75% and revert 50% of land loss induced by climate change.

The electricity industry is committed to do even more by scaling up nature-inclusive design and good operational practices across renewables and grid projects. The first step to do so is embracing the mitigation hierarchy as the foundational principle of biodiversity integration.

"Adopting ecological measures that can accelerate energy infrastructure deployment to meet our climate targets is a win-win for the planet." – says Eurelectric's Secretary General, Kristian Ruby.

The benefits transcend nature protection. Developers can improve their reputation and garner social acceptance for their installations, thereby avoiding delays due to public concerns. These projects also add wider environmental benefits to local communities and build in climate resilience.

"We need all hands on deck, including policymakers, investors and corporate actors, to scale up biodiversity-integrated renewable projects" – adds Noor Yafai, TNC's Europe Director Global Policy and Institutional Partnerships.

Yet, several challenges persist. 84% of developers surveyed in the study reported that integrating biodiversity is costly, ranging from €25,000 to €280 million per project. Scientific data is also limited and there is no common guidance nor agreed metric to measure nature protection. This can discourage nature-inclusive measures.

Eurelectric calls on policymakers to swiftly implement the 2030 climate package and adopt the pending Nature Restoration Law. In parallel, the EU should reward biodiversity-mindful projects by increasing funds under the MFF, facilitating the use of ecological non-price criteria in renewables auctions, and providing fiscal incentives for PPA buyers with a biodiversity strategy. An EU biodiversity framework should also harmonise the many metrics available today and provide guidance for biodiversity integration across economic sectors.


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