|The Renewables Grid InitiativeThe Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) is a coalition of grid operators and environmental NGOs, working for full integration of renewable electricity into Europe’s networks. It advocates “national and EU authorities to strive for an efficient, sustainable, clean and socially accepted development of the European network infrastructure for both decentralised and large-scale renewable energies.”
To date, the RGI’s members include grid operators in the following countries: Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, Italy, Norway and Switzerland. NGO members include the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), WWF and Natuur & Milieu. The RGI has brought together stakeholders in a series of workshops covering issues such as ‘energy storage’, ‘environmental impacts’, and ‘the need for grids’. The RGI is also leading a process to develop ‘best practice’ guidance on how to improve the public acceptability of grid development.
In November 2011 the RGI released the “European Grid Declaration on Electricity Network Development and Nature Conservation in Europe”. The RSPB and the Dutch grid operator TenneT led on developing the text, with RGI coordinating input from its members and a wider group of stakeholders. The Declaration has 29 signatories so far, including nine grid operators and further NGOs such as BirdLife Europe, NABU (BirdLife in Germany), Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Europe.
The European Grid Declaration is an important public statement of common ground: environmental NGOs and grid operators agree that electricity networks need to be developed to accommodate renewable electricity and that this can and must be achieved without negative impacts on nature protection. It is an important step in enabling stakeholders to work together to find joint solutions. The RGI is now dedicating resources to implementing the agreements made in the declaration. The partners are now developing a second, similar declaration, this time with a focus on ‘transparency, public participation and acceptance’.
RSPB (BirdLife partner in the UK)
Ivan Scrase, Ivan.Scrase(at)rspb.org.uk