Groundbreaking RSPB plan will revolutionise the energy industry

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The detailed plan ensures the development of renewable energy doesn't endanger nature and wildlife

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24th May 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Environmentalists have come up with a  groundbreaking plan that would allow Scotland to meet ambitious climate change targets, transform the UK energy system and protect nature.

Research conducted by scientists from the Royal Society for the Protection off Birds (RSPB) shows where renewable energy technologies, including onshore wind, solar, bioenergy, offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, could be located to avoid sensitive wildlife areas, taking account planning constraints, infrastructure and land needed for food production.

This would allow for a workable renewable energy system across the UK and would help Scotland meet its 2050 commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.

This can be achieved affordably and securely and are committed to working with responsible developers to achieve our vision

Results show that the UK could generate up to four times its current total energy demand from renewable sources, but this is dependent on a strategic approach to energy planning, where projects are located to maximise generation at the lowest cost to nature. 

The RSPB’s 2050 Energy Vision shows for the first time how renewable technologies could meet the majority of UK’s energy needs whilst avoiding harm to important species and habitats.

If followed, the strategy could avoid clashes between developers and conservationists over the siting of windfarms, for example.

The charity says it spends considerable time engaging with planning applications to ensure that sensitive areas are avoided, and it robustly fights developments with unacceptably high impacts.

A large proportion of the new energy potential the RSPB identifies is from offshore renewables in deeper waters, using wave and floating wind technologies. These will take time to develop but the research also identified considerable areas available for established onshore renewables. Results found that Scotland could increase its onshore wind capacity by three times, and its solar capacity by thirty times.

However, the charity says that further investment in monitoring of wildlife distributions and sensitivities is vital.

This research enabled the RSPB to develop three 2050 scenarios to meet energy needs with low risk for wildlife.

The scenarios include a range of renewables alongside energy storage, interconnection with other countries, and smart grid networks which will enable better matching of energy supply and demand.

They assume demand for energy will be reduced by a third, meaning government support is required to ramp up measures like home insulation. Based on these findings, RSPB Scotland has set out 10 recommendations for the Scottish Government to decarbonise energy in harmony with nature.

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: “Our research shows that a low carbon energy future in harmony with nature is possible, and we have set out a positive vision for how this can be done without harming Scotland’s special places for wildlife.

“It’s critical that we work together now to make this happen. Climate change is one of the single biggest threats to people and nature alike, but with Scotland’s nature in decline, we have a responsibility to invest in an energy system that works for both people and our natural heritage. The government has a key role in developing a strategic approach to spatial planning to guide the right developments to the right places. 

“We have shown that this can be achieved affordably and securely, and are committed to continuing to work with responsible developers and decision-makers to help achieve our vision.”

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