Running kids on grass

Green energy for the planet and its people

Green energy for the planet and its people

Sustainability report 2021

Table of Contents
  • Sustainability at our core
  • Our sustainability priorities
  • Our progress across sustainability programmes

Building renewables in harmony with nature

The global build-out of green energy must enhance biodiversity in habitats and among wildlife instead of diminishing it. Our ambition is to deliver a net-positive biodiversity impact from all new renewable energy projects we commission from 2030 at the latest.

Climate change is projected to be the biggest driver of biodiversity loss in the coming decade. Already, the variety of life found on land and at sea is facing extreme threat, with many species extinct or endangered. Over the past 50 years, rapid population growth, human consumption, and associated activities such as deforestation, overfishing, and pollution have caused biodiversity and ecosystems to degrade more rapidly than at any other time in human history.

Biodiversity supports all forms of life on our planet, and we have a fundamental responsibility to protect it. As we move to accelerate the global build-out of green energy to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, our work must enhance biodiversity in habitats and among wildlife instead of diminishing it. To ensure that our planet continues to be a healthy home for future generations, we need to take decisive action on both climate and nature.

Towards a net-positive impact on biodiversity

At Ørsted, we are leveraging our experience to achieve our industry-leading goal of ensuring that all renewable energy projects have a net-positive impact on biodiversity. We have already started this process, and our ambition is to guarantee a net-positive impact from every new asset we commission from 2030 at the latest.

With some of the renewable industry's most experienced environmental specialists on our team, our approach is always to avoid, mitigate, and address the potential biodiversity impacts of our projects. With the net-positive biodiversity ambition that we set in 2021, we are raising the bar further and are exploring new territory. We do not yet have all the answers on how to deliver on this ambition, but we know first-hand that ambitious, public commitments serve to motivate and spur action – both from us and from the wider industry.

We have already undertaken several biodiversity initiatives, providing us with experience to build on as we start to systematically implement initiatives that support our journey towards an overall net-positive contribution to natural ecosystems, habitats, and species in and around all our new renewable energy projects. To honour our commitment, we have established a dedicated and cross-organisational programme.

Key challenge
No clear framework on the development and quantification of net-positive biodiversity impacts

Our action
Drawing on our unparalleled experience in developing, constructing, and operating offshore wind, we want to work closely with leading organisations to define how to meaningfully measure biodiversity impacts on the dynamic ocean environment.

Joined the Science Based Targets Network’s Corporate Engagement Program to help develop science-based nature targets and advance long-term development of tools and guidance to measure impact and dependencies on biodiversity, land, water, and the ocean.

Key challenge
No toolbox to deliver net-positive impact from renewable energy projects

Our action
We want to invest in maturing scalable biodiversity solutions and learn from them as we develop a suite of net-positive biodiversity measures backed by the scientific community.

Installed artificial reefs to support the cod stock at our offshore wind farm Borssele 1 & 2 in the Netherlands, and in the Danish Kattegat straits.

Mapping the presence of North Atlantic right whales near New Jersey and Massachusetts in the US to better understand potential biodiversity impacts.

Oceans as mitigators of climate change

Ocean-based infrastructure plays a critical role in all paths to a net-zero world. Since the current scale of biodiversity loss is weakening the ocean's vital ability to act as a global climate regulator and life source for coastal communities, halting the loss of marine biodiversity is particularly urgent. To limit global warming to 1.5 °C, we need to improve the health of our oceans.

As we embark on this journey, we need to appreciate the complexity of the road ahead and how biodiversity intersects with other ocean-related sustainability challenges. In most scenarios, reaching net-zero emissions, improving food security, and creating shared prosperity involves increasing the use of marine space, which can create additional environmental pressure on the ocean if not managed properly. We must take sufficient measures to protect and restore the health of our ocean if it is to deliver on its potential to mitigate climate change.


“I’m optimistic about our nature’s future”

Birte Hansen
Project Manager, Environment and Permitting, Ørsted

As a global community, how do we ensure that increased use of the ocean and increased protection of biodiversity are mutually supportive rather than mutually exclusive? Solving this requires a renewed approach that supports holistic planning of the different uses of the ocean. This approach needs to be based on multi-stakeholder engagement and driven by increased collaboration between ocean actors, including fisheries, shipping, energy, local communities, nations, NGOs, and international organisations. Ørsted is actively engaged in these efforts through initiatives such as the UN Global Compact Ocean Stewardship Coalition and Ocean 100.

It is critical that we solve the challenge of marine spatial planning and develop industry-wide, standardised approaches for measuring biodiversity impacts on offshore environments where it is so hard to establish a baseline.

Combining our expertise

Without concerted effort, global biodiversity will come under even greater pressure until it is no longer able to sustain itself – or us. At Ørsted, we remain optimistic that setting bold ambitions for net-positive biodiversity impacts is an important first step in making material progress. We will likely make mistakes along the way as we learn, but if we make ambitious commitments, innovate together, and move quickly, we are convinced that we can improve biodiversity and restore balance between human activity and nature.

Building an offshore wind turbine
Our sustainability priorities

Driving a just, local, and enabling transition

On this page we elaborate on the role our company should play in driving a build-out of green energy that works for people