Power Grid Development

  • Moving to an energy system with a high share of renewables in Europe presents a range of challenges. Wind, solar and marine energy sources are variable, so local resources may not always be able to meet peak electricity demand. Storing electricity is difficult and expensive, with few technological alternatives available. ‘Pumped storage’ involves pumping water uphill at times of low demand and releasing it when demand peaks: this is a proven technology, but creating the necessary lakes presents ecological risks through habitat loss.

    The lowest cost and most ecologically acceptable solution is greater interconnection between power markets; the more interconnected regions and nations become, the more they will be able to import electricity when local renewables supplies dry up.

    BirdLife Europe supports the development of electricity transmission and distribution networks in Europe to accommodate the expansion of renewable energy. 

    Engaging with industry

    European Grid Report handed over to Commisioners Oettinger and Potocnik, RGI Conference, 5 December 2012.

    We work with grid operators to ensure new and existing power lines do not create risks of collision and electrocution for birds. We call on policy-makers in the EU and Member States to ensure grid development plans take account of environmental impacts and that new power lines are sensitively routed to avoid unnecessary impacts.

    BirdLife Europe supports large scale, rapid deployment of renewables and associated power lines. However, these technologies can have impacts on nature and the environment if they are badly planned and sited. We work with industry, other NGOs and experts to find and promote solutions for sustainable deployment to ensure investments combat climate change and also protect biodiversity and the environment. For example, in 2011 we produced “Meeting Europe's Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature”, which was warmly welcomed by policy makers and renewables industries.

    We are partners in the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), which brings together green NGOs and grid operators to promote modernisation of transmission capacity in Europe. This is needed to enable renewables deployment. BirdLife Europe helped develop the European Grid Declaration, which brings together a strong and diverse group of NGOs and grid operators on a set of principles to guide nature conservation and public participation. At its launch event, the Declaration was presented to Commissioners Günther H. Oettinger (Energy) and Janez Potočnik (Environment). We have also produced a joint declaration on ways to reduce the incidence of bird mortality due to electrocution on power lines.

    RGI promotes the expansion of distributed and bulk renewable energy generation and transmission capacity in Europe. To reach this target, the initiative brings together non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs).

    BirdLife Europe's Ariel Brunner at the most recent RGI Conference

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.