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

Green energy in balance with nature

Nature, and its variety of species and habitats, regulates the well-being of our planet, and it is in crisis. Building green energy is a lifesaver for nature – but it also involves impacts on nature that we need to manage.

With the following four sustainability programmes, we address the challenges linked to the impact our business has on biodiversity and natural resources.

Our aspiration is to lead a build-out of green energy where each energy project contributes positively to a thriving nature.

6. Biodiversity
7. Circular resource use
8. Minerals and metals
9. Sustainable biomass

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production, 14: Life below water & 15: Life on land
  • 6. Biodiversity

    Sustainability challenge
    Biodiversity impacts and change in ecosystems

    The consequences of climate change are already impacting our ecosystems negatively, with water scarcity, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss occurring all around the world. Halting the loss of biodiversity is key to maintaining the healthy ecosystems which we depend on, as well as combatting climate change.

    Our approach
    We commit to ensuring that all projects commissioned from 2030 must have a net-positive impact. We conduct detailed environmental assessments, engage in dialogue with relevant stakeholders, and provide support for scientific knowledge-building and R&D.

    Our progress

    • We have set an ambition for biodiversity and commit to ensuring that all projects commissioned from 2030 must have a net-positive biodiversity impact.
    • We have joined the Science Based Targets Network’s (SBTN) Corporate Engagement Program to help develop and advance tools for measuring our impact and dependency on biodiversity.
    • At our Borssele 1 & 2 Offshore Wind Farm in the Netherlands, we are creating artificial reefs for the Atlantic cod, which plays a key role in the food chain and local ecosystem.
    • We have partnered with WWF and deployed ten biohuts in the Port of Grenaa to help preserve the cod stock in Denmark’s Kattegat straits, where population numbers are critically low, negatively impacting ecosystems.
    • We are leading the WWF’s Coalition Linking Energy and Nature for Action, which unites leading international organisations involved with energy and nature issues, government representatives, NGOs, and businesses.

    Actions for the future
    Measure our biodiversity impacts across all of our operations and build a systematic approach for integrating net-positive biodiversity initiatives into our development of green energy projects. Ensure that our approach is science-based by continuously working with SBTN’s Corporate Engagement Program.

  • 7. Circular resource use

    Sustainability challenge
    Circular use of resources and water scarcity

    The world’s resources are used almost twice as fast as they can be reproduced. This overconsumption impacts our ecosystems through biodiversity loss, climate change, scarcity, and pollution on land and at sea. To meet increasing resource demand while lowering our global environmental footprint, it is paramount that we reuse and recycle our resources.

    Our approach
    To achieve a more sustainable use of resources, we are transitioning to become a company with a circular economy based on three strategic pillars: (i) We will use fewer virgin resources where possible, (ii) We will use resources better and for longer, (iii) We will recirculate resources upon end of life.

    Our progress

    • In 2021, we performed a full-scale life cycle assessment of our Changhua projects in Taiwan to get an updated overview of the environmental footprint across all components of an Ørsted offshore wind farm. This will form the basis of an in-house tool to support our strategy on resource use for future projects.
    • We constantly strive to improve our recycling rates from all waste fractions. This year, we have made a commitment to immediately ban landfilling of all our wind turbine blades, instead seeking to reuse, recycle, or recover the materials. This will bring us closer to a fully recyclable wind farm.
    • We have reduced our total volume of hazardous waste by 85 % from 2020 to 2021. However, removing this waste has caused our recycling rate to drop from 82 % to 67 %.
    • Our total volume of non-harzadous waste increased this year due to increased power generation at our CHP plants. The waste from our plants is primarily ashes from our use of sustainable biomass.

    Actions for the future
    We will start looking at how we can implement circularity into either our design or sourcing of wind farm components (foundations and wind turbine generators) while establishing practices for performing life-time extensions and for circular decommissioning of full wind farms.

  • 8. Minerals and metals

    Sustainability challenge
    Minerals and metals for green energy deployment

    The build-out of renewable energy will increase mining activities for certain requisite metals and minerals. Since a significant share of the global extraction and production of those resources takes place in countries with high likelihood of negative social and environmental impacts, there is an increased risk of adverse impacts on supply chains.

    Our approach
    The mining of minerals and metals takes place deep within supply chains, and Ørsted does not have direct control over how these activities are performed. To help shape solutions in this space, we are engaging with key suppliers based on the first three steps of the OECD Guidelines: (i) Establish strong company management systems, (ii) Identify and assess risks in the supply chains, and (iii) Design and implement a strategy to respond to identified risks. We are also addressing the topic through industry initiatives, including WindEurope and the Dutch Wind Covenant.

    Our progress

    • We have mapped and prioritised ten metals which are being used in our offshore and onshore operations.
    • We have started a dialogue with ten key suppliers to understand the current level of supply chain transparency for priority metals, and whether social and environmental risks within these networks have been identified.
    • We have joined the cross-industry Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), which focuses on responsible mining practices. With our membership, we want to promote responsible mining practices in our supply chains and learn how other IRMA members are addressing societal and environmental risks in their supply chains.

    Actions for the future
    To be able to address specific societal and environmental risks in our metal supply chains, we need a clearer understanding of how priority metals used in our renewable energy are sourced. We will continue to investigate this in collaboration with our first-tier suppliers and industry initiatives.

  • 9. Sustainable biomass

    Sustainability challenge
    Biomass sustainability

    To ensure significant carbon savings compared to coal, the biomass used for energy generation must meet strict sustainability criteria and be sourced from certified sustainable forests.

    Our approach
    We only source sustainable biomass certified by independent, third-party certification bodies, in line with Danish legislation. Our biomass is sourced from sustainably managed production forests with ongoing reforestation. The wood pellets and chips we use are made from residues and low-grade wood in low demand from sawmills and other wood industries, most often from sawdust, regular thinning of forests, or diseased or crooked trees.

    Our progress

    • We only procure 100 % third-party-certified sustainable biomass and will maintain that level going forward.
    • We report annually on the biomass feedstock types we use, countries of harvest, and the carbon emissions from production and transport to ensure transparency in our approach.
    • This year, a new Danish law on biomass has been passed which sets higher standards for companies to document traceability, carbon reductions, third-party certifications, etc. We will abide by this law, and fully support the need for it.

    Actions for the future
    Achieve carbon-negative emissions from our combined heat and power plants through carbon capture and storage technologies.


Ørsted employees working on onshore wind turbine
Our progress across sustainability programmes

A green transformation that works for people

On this page we outline our progress in our strategic sustainability priority about a green transformation that works for people