ENERGYACCESS If Renewables are not Sufficient Protecting the Earth Safeguarding Biodiversity

Published on Monday, 21 December 2015

Renewables are not enough. Solar-, wind-, geothermal and hydropower are crucial in combatting pollution and climate change, but green sources alone are not sufficient to protect the Earth and safeguard nature. In fact, the clean energy that is generated by solar PV fields or wind farms is not the only indicator to evaluate the actual sustainability of the companies that build them: safeguarding ecosystems, flora and fauna and conducting an in-depth study of the natural context in which plants are built are essential in assessing and certifying a company's ability to fully protect the environment in which it operates.

The article on The Guardian website entitled 'How to reduce green energy's impact on wildlife and ecosystems' describes the attention and needs that each area requires, based on a survey conducted by Cambridge Conservation Initiative: "Urgent mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is essential to reduce the impact of climate change on biodiversity," however, as the survey states: "mitigation may also increase  the risk of extinction via the unforeseen  impact of developments in renewable energy, such as the consequences of wind farms or biofuel. 

21 million euro invested in Europe, Latin America, United States and Russia. This is the amount that Enel has  allocated to achieve 129 biodiversity protection projects in areas surrounding its plants. Caring for various bird species, from the habitat where they are born and live to their migration routes, is only a focus on one of the hundreds of projects that include the protection of water courses and the flora and fauna found in rivers in Utah and Mexico's Central Plateau uplands.

Enel has a specific policy that applies to all the Group's biodiversity protection initiatives pertaining to power generation, transmission and distribution activities. These guidelines, presented at the United Nations' World Biodiversity Day 2015, have been developed with the specific aim of contributing to the goals of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in compliance with the Strategic Biodiversity Plan 2011-2020 and the related 20 targets, called Aichi Targets after the Japanese town where they were first presented to the international community.

Safeguarding biodiversity is one of Enel's 10 strategic objectives  behind the ongoing initiatives and programmes in 13 countries, where the Group companies operate within very different contexts and with projects that regard various sectors of the energy supply chain and therefore interact in different ways with the environment.

The stork nests designed in Italy to protect storks from any risk of electrocution when posing on electricity pylons, as well as the fruit trees expressly planted on the land where the Belmonte wind farm is located in Spain for the brown bears in Cantabria, are two of the various examples of how caring for biodiversity results in an infinite amount of details and attention to details.

Collaboration with local populations is a key factor for Enel's biodiversity projects, because dialogue and exchanges with people living in the area surrounding the Group's plants specifically reveal  the needs from which the projects achieving the  Creating Shared Value (CSV) model originate.

The 'natural capital' that renewable energy companies share with the populations that live in the areas where the plants operate is a highly tangible example of common good implying a common asset.  "We rely on the same resources - says Vanessa Tedeschi, a senior adviser on environment and climate change at Enel - and this is why we need to take care of them."