The unlocking of Europe's full potential for renewable energy via the modernisation and expansion of its power grids should go hand-in-hand with nature conservation efforts, said a coalition of Europe's largest grid operators and environmental organisations. The “European Grid Declaration on Electricity Network Development and Nature Conservation in Europe” was handed to European Commissioner for Energy Günther H. Oettinger today at the European Grid Conference in Brussels.
In October, the European Commission put forward a draft law making it easier to build and finance cross-border power lines, which are essential to making Europe’s energy system greener. The coalition of grid operators and civil society organisations supports Europe’s ambition to boost renewable electricity and cut carbon emissions.
A pledge to work together The joint declaration aims to strengthen the coalition of stakeholders supporting grid expansion to integrate renewables and raise public awareness of this need. It also lays the ground for cooperation on specific pilot projects to develop best practice and improve the implementation of grid development in line with nature conservation objectives. The coalition also pledges to encourage transparency and address public acceptance.
Grid operators commit to helping meet Europe’s objectives to protect nature, for example by ensuring that risks to birds from power lines are minimised. At the same time, the NGOs commit to supporting crucial grid development for the integration of renewables from larger centralised and smaller localised generation sources.
Renewables Grid Initiative Executive Director Antonella Battaglini: "This declaration shows that Europe's energy and environmental commitments don't need to be in conflict - we can build grids fast for renewables and also protect nature. We need new alliances across society to acknowledge the challenges and to find acceptable solutions. We invite the Commission to use this declaration as a first building block for European guidelines on grid expansion and nature protection."