Contributing to bridging the blue finance gap through blue bonds

In June 2023, we were the first energy company in the world to issue a blue bond, a five-year EUR 100 million private placement bond. Net proceeds from our blue bond are invested in initiatives and projects aimed at developing the knowledge needed to innovate and scale ocean-based renewable energy solutions while contributing to ocean health. We do this by targeting two areas relevant for the blue economy, namely ‘marine ecosystem restoration’ and ‘sustainable shipping’, in accordance with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Blue Finance Guidelines.

What happened in 2023?

A year has passed since the issuance of our blue bond, and we have now shared the first blue bond impact report directly with our bond holders. As our blue bond is a private placement, the report is confidential. However, by issuing this industry-first blue bond and producing our first blue bond impact report, we aim to contribute to a sustainable ocean economy by directing investments towards offshore biodiversity projects, addressing the so-called global ‘blue finance gap’.  We want to improve our ability to take action on biodiversity and promote a financial instrument that we hope will gain further traction going forward.

We have an ambition to deliver a net-positive biodiversity impact from all new renewable energy projects we commission from 2030. This means that we are dedicated to ensuring that the ecological footprint of our renewable energy projects contributes positively to biodiversity, enhancing ecosystems and wildlife habitats. The issuance of our blue bond will support our efforts to refine and build on our ability to manage and measure biodiversity impact. This involves developing expertise in scoping and managing our biodiversity projects so we can deploy them effectively in the future alongside new renewable energy projects. In 2023, net proceeds from our blue bond have been allocated to a variety of biodiversity projects. See examples of projects with blue bond allocations at the bottom of this page.

Categorisation of marine ecosystem restoration projects

We have categorised our marine ecosystem restoration projects into four main categories:

1. Research and monitoring
This category encompasses various projects that are defined by benefiting scientific research on biodiversity, animal behavior, or similar, or where biodiversity (species or habitats) is monitored through surveys or the use of novel technologies and approaches, including the use of AI.

2. Mitigation actions
These projects are defined by mitigating actions typically undertaken in the construction phase of an asset’s lifecycle, such as reducing the level of underwater noise that can affect marine fauna during the installation of offshore wind turbine foundations.

3. Species restoration
This category has a species-specific focus, meaning that the projects typically concentrate on one species or a small group of similar species (e.g. molluscs or seabirds). These projects aim to either protect, restore, or enhance species.

4. Ecosystem restoration
Similar to the species restoration category, this category focuses on a single habitat or ecosystem, with a defined area of project action.

Managing and measuring biodiversity impact

Measuring biodiversity and quantifying our overall impact is challenging, especially in marine environments. Data on the ocean is often scarce, and there are practical challenges to working within this environment. Additionally, measuring and managing biodiversity entails a combined understanding and analysis of the extent, behaviour, and populations of different species.

To overcome this challenge and ensure we can both achieve and measure our future net-positive impact, we are working to finalise our biodiversity measurement framework based on well-known practices of the mitigation hierarchy: to avoid, reduce, and mitigate our impacts and to develop solutions to measure our overall impact on biodiversity.

The mitigation hierarchy

Qualitative and quantitative impact

Across our biodiversity projects, there is a broad variation of potential impact, with some being quantifiable, while others have a qualitative impact. Some projects have quantifiable impacts, such as ecosystem restorations or noise reduction technologies, where we can measure that a certain area has been restored to a more natural state, or that the decibel level (dB) has decreased.

Other projects will have an impact that cannot be quantified, such as many of the research and monitoring projects. Research projects are building blocks in gathering knowledge about key species’ behaviour and biology, providing invaluable information for us as a renewable energy developer as well as for the wider scientific community. For instance, data from testing novel technologies to monitor bird movements can deepen our understanding of whether birds tend to avoid both individual wind turbines and wider wind farms in general, aiding us in the planning and design stages of a project.

In each type of project we undertake, we adhere to established scientific methodologies to assess progress. Consequently, we typically cannot report direct changes to biodiversity within short timescales, and more tangible and quantitative results are more likely to emerge one to three years after the project’s launch. This delay can be attributed to variations in ecosystem types, species life cycles, or simply the field methodology used.

Examples of projects with blue bond allocations

Blue finance area Marine ecosystem restoration category  Biodiversity project(s)  Example of impact indicators 
Marine ecosystem restoration Research and monitoring Novel research techniques to monitor marine biodiversity impact related to mobile marine species (marine mammals, fish) and benthic habitats, e.g. by using:
• Novel digital camera software to monitor bird movements
• Passive acoustic telemetry to monitor marine fish
• LiDAR to conduct digital aerial surveys and measure the flight height of seabirds
• GPS tagging and tracking to monitor seabirds
• Towed video surveys to monitor marine mammals
• Motus and radar surveys to monitor marine mammals
• ROV video surveys and SPI/PV optical surveys for marine benthic monitoring
• Studying seabird behaviour*
• Studying marine fish behaviour*
• Monitoring threatened species*
• Tracking birds, number of birds
• Local species knowledge*
• Preventing collision with marine mammals*
• Benthic habitat health*
• Monitoring surveys to improve industry understanding of fish migration patterns
• Desktop research development*
Mitigation actions
• Offshore wind turbine installation: Installation or testing of low noise installation technologies
• Noise mitigation, dB
Species restoration
• Using artificial nesting sites as seabird ecological compensatory measures
• Protected species, number of breeding pairs
• Researching whether we can give corals a home on our offshore wind farms
• Coral growth, number of corals
Ecosystem restoration
Direct habitat conservation efforts:
• Marine rewilding
• Habitat restoration through seagrass planting and native oyster releases
• Restoring coastal ecosystems
• Establishing biogenic reefs using native oysters and horse mussels
• Restored biogenic reef, m²
• Seagrass restored, ha
• Restored saltmarsh, km²
• Restored biogenic reef, m²
Sustainable shipping
  • Power-to-X (P2X): Producing renewable fuels
• Avoided emissions, tCO2e

*The biodiversity initiative has a qualitative impact or both a qualitative and quantitative impact. See more information throughout this page.

Explore some of our biodiversity projects and partnerships 

A flock of birds flying over water and vegetation in the Playa Lakes wetland ecosystem in Texas

Boosting biodiversity on land

We support biodiversity initiatives in environments where we build and operate onshore renewable energy projects. 

Restoring biogenic reefs in the North Sea

In partnership with WWF and DTU Aqua, we’re creating new habitats, increasing biodiversity, and improving water quality
Fish in the ocean

Partnering with WWF for ocean biodiversity

Together with WWF, we’re exploring ways to protect and restore biodiversity in offshore wind development 
Group seagrass planting

Wilder Humber: Restoring Coastal Ecosystems

We’re partnering with Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trusts on a seascape restoration project in the Humber Estuary, one of the UK’s most important conservation sites.