July 13, 2021

New project in Ireland to focus on wind farm biodiversity benefits

A new nature and energy project will focus on developing an action plan and combining it with an environmental monitoring system. The new project launched in Ireland explores the means of accounting for the value of nature on wind farms and creating a monitoring system across Ireland that will transform how we measure biodiversity.

The Nature+Energy project is managed by MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy and Climate and Marine groups in Trinity and Maynooth University. The group will focus on developing natural capital accounts and a biodiversity action plan for the wind industry, enabling the creation of biodiversity enhancing measures and help towards managing the impacts of wind farm development on certain species.
The project has secured funding from Wind Energy Ireland and eight independent renewable energy businesses across the nation.

Ian Donohue, the project coordinator and lead professor at the Trinity College Dublin School of Natural Sciences, explains that the project developed with the belief that wind farms have the potential to generate more than just renewable energy. Donohue states that if done correctly, the biodiversity surrounding onshore wind farms could reduce the level of carbon released into the atmosphere. At the same time, improve the resilience of our ecosystems to the impacts of climate change by strengthening and protecting the ecosystem processes that happen naturally in the environment.

Donohue refers to wind sites as potentially acting as small-scale reserves across Ireland. Climate change, combined with the impact on biodiversity and two major environmental crises facing all of humanity. By implementing measures that focus on solutions, this project showcases how researchers and industry groups can collaborate to create a mutually beneficial outcome for our economy and the environment.

Brian O Gallachoir, the MaREI director professor of energy engineering at University College Cork, stated that he was delighted and excited by the launch of the MaREI project. Gallachoir explains that Ireland is a global leader in managing the challenges of integrating wind energy into power systems and highlights the significant resource of wind in Ireland.

O Gallachoir points out that government policy is forecast to double the existing wind power levels by 2030. Nature+Energy will support the ability for this growth to take place in a way that protects our biodiversity.