Building renewable energy in balance with biodiversity

Scaling renewable energy can impact life on land and at sea. We continue to find ways to develop robust biodiversity management practices to build green energy in balance with the local environment and habitats.

Despite global political commitments to protect biodiversity, the variety of life found on land and in our seas continues to shrink at an alarming pace. As climate change is posing a fundamental threat to biodiversity, scaling up renewable energy needs to play an important role in protecting the world’s ecosystems. But accelerating the build-out of renewable energy structures itself comes with important environmental considerations.

We’ve committed to promote the UN Global Compact’s Sustainable Ocean Principles.

At Ørsted, we work diligently to manage positive and negative impacts on biodiversity across all our renewable energy assets. Offshore wind farms are large, complex infrastructural projects, and building and maintaining them can cause adverse environmental impacts. The noise from offshore piling during installation can, for example, temporarily disturb marine mammals, and foundations and cables can alter the seabed and existing underwater habitats.

In keeping with our Biodiversity policy, we always carry out a full and detailed assessment when planning new projects and tailor our impact mitigation to the unique marine environment at each of our sites. We’ve committed to promote the UN Global Compact’s Sustainable Ocean Principles and we’re dedicated to building renewable energy in balance with our seas.

Minimising adverse environmental impacts

Substantial evidence base has developed largely on the impacts that wind farms have on the natural environment, and this evidence base is ever growing as the industry develops. We’ve built substantial in-house environmental expertise, and we conduct detailed assessments of the environmental impact of our wind farms following the mitigation hierarchy, international standards, and country-specific regulation.

Among other actions, we engage with NGOs and regulators to understand their approach to impact management, and we collaborate with research institutions to monitor and assess impacts, such as with the Ecosystem and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (ECOPAM) project in the US. We also pilot cutting-edge engineering initiatives, including bubble curtains, screens, to reduce noise impacts from offshore wind installation on marine mammals.

Exploring opportunities to support marine biodiversity

Offshore wind farms can support marine wildlife by creating additional habitats and attracting new species, and where relevant, we’re piloting projects to explore wind farms’ ‘artificial reef effect’. At our Borssele offshore wind farms in the Netherlands, we’re laying pipes to encourage a nursery ground for cod. With these projects, we’re building our knowledge of how offshore wind farms can contribute to thriving marine life near our wind farms.
Increasing the build-out of green energy will mean that our work will extend to  more diverse marine ecosystems in far greater numbers. To ensure consistency, transparency, and accountability across our global activities, we’re now developing a more programmatic approach to biodiversity management.

Local communities

A green energy transformation that benefits local communities

To learn more about how we prioritise and anchor sustainability themes in our sustainability strategy, and how we reflect these themes in our sustainability programs