As we strive to tackle the climate, biodiversity, and energy crises, the infrastructure we build and operate in Europe must go beyond fulfilling its primary purpose and explore how it can serve biodiversity and local communities, as well as our renewable ambitions.
Grid operators must manage vegetation beneath power lines to ensure system security. Taking an integrated, ecological approach to vegetation management (IVM) can have diverse benefits for people, nature, and the energy transition itself. For example:
- Native vegetation can provide valuable habitats for local biodiversity
- Grid corridors can reconnect fragmented ecosystems at scale
- Partnerships can provide new opportunities for rural actors
- Less intensive intervention can reduce costs for grid operators in the long term
- More ecological management and public engagement can boost acceptance of infrastructure
So, how does this look in practice? In our webinar on Thursday 27th October, 11:30 – 13:00 CEST, we shone the spotlight on the Iberian peninsula and learnt about some innovative approaches to IVM. Inputs were given by:
- Xavier Munill, Professor of Ecology of the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB). Xavier will present results from Naturaleza en RED, a pilot project with Spanish TSO, Red Eléctrica de España, which shows how the grid can function as biodiversity reservoirs in forests and as a refuge for local fauna in open areas affected by human activities;
- Pedro Marques, Vegetation Management Coordinator of Portuguese TSO, Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN), describing REN's approach to IVM, using reforestation of native flora, grazing of indigenous horse species, and management of invasive species;
- Liam Innis, RGI's Manager - Energy Ecosystems, who will present the project Pastoreo en RED (Grid Grazing), a runner up in our Good Practice Award 2021, whereby Red Eléctrica teamed up with local sheep farmer to use his herd to graze a grid corridor, with diverse positive effects.
The event culminated in a 30 minute open discussion. In case of questions, contact Liam Innis.