Solar energy projects on the ground are a place of protection and restoration of biodiversity

Solar energy projects on the ground are a place of protection and restoration of biodiversity


Solar energy projects on the ground are a place for the protection and restoration of biodiversity, according to the II Report on Sustainability and Solar Energy.

The Spanish Photovoltaic Union, the majority sectoral association of solar energy in Spain, in collaboration with BBVA, has organized the first Conference on Solar Energy and Sustainability in which the main results of the II Sustainability and Solar Energy Report prepared by the independent environmental consultant EMAT.

This report includes the results obtained in 2022 after the study carried out by the independent environmental consultant EMAT with the aim of assessing the biodiversity present in different photovoltaic solar installations, using birds as the main indicator. In this second study, solar energy projects on the ground with different ages and locations have participated, where field work and data collection have been carried out in the months of April to early June 2022.

Among the data obtained, the second edition of the report shows that the richness of species found in photovoltaic plants has reached remarkable values, with the oldest facilities obtaining the best results and those that have carried out the greatest number of environmental improvement actions. . In addition, photovoltaic projects are revealed as a shelter for protected or endangered species.

The independent environmental consultancy EMAT determines, for the second consecutive year, that in the projects on land studied, measures are being put into practice that contribute to the conservation or recovery of fauna, such as the installation of nests and shelters, recovery of habitats, elimination of blackheads, among many others.

The Sustainability and Solar Energy Report concludes that there is no doubt that, once the photovoltaic installation is in operation, its space is suitable for the presence of a good number of species of birds, invertebrates and other vertebrates. To the conditions of the habitats generated within the project, tranquility and the absence of other impacts derived from human activity are added as a stimulus for the presence of species, becoming “sanctuaries” for biodiversity during the time the facility operates.


The Conference on Sustainability and Solar Energy, which took place in the BBVA Auditorium with the presence of more than 200 people, included the participation of Hugo Morán, Secretary of State for the Environment, as well as institutional representatives of the Congress of Deputies, Community de Madrid and Junta de Extremadura, in addition to more than 20 experts from the main environmental organizations and the business fabric of solar energy in Spain.

“In order for there to be a fair transit, there must be knowledge. Knowing that where we are going is a better place. I believe that the dialogue efforts and the social and environmental integration of solar energy projects are already a reality that has permeated society and is the demonstration that things can be done well, if they want to be done well. My congratulations to UNEF for this edition and the following ones and we hope that everything spreads to the productive fabric of our country”, declared Morán.

“We have a perfect formula to complete an energy transition full of opportunities for our country: more hours of sunshine than other neighboring countries, available land that is fully compatible with other economic activities and leading companies in photovoltaic technology. A competitive advantage that, if we take advantage of it correctly, can become a true transformative lever for Spain”, stressed Rafael Benjumea, president of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union.

“At UNEF we are fully aware of the importance of advancing in a responsible and respectful implementation of solar energy projects as a basic strategy to contain climate change and the generation of new opportunities for our country. Proof of this is this pioneering event in the sector in which we will try to share and generate knowledge among public organizations, environmental entities and companies in the Spanish photovoltaic sector”, recalled the president of UNEF.

For his part, Antoni Ballabriga, global director of Responsible Business at BBVA, the sponsor of the event, stressed that “renewable energies and photovoltaic energy in particular play a fundamental role in achieving the goal of zero net emissions by 2050. At BBVA It is a strategic priority and we are prepared to support clients with standardized solutions but also by developing innovative solutions that respond to more sophisticated models such as distributed generation”.

Juan López de Uralde, president of the Commission for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge in the Congress of Deputies, recalled that Spain has a roadmap to follow based 100% on renewable energies that will generate a great opportunity for Spain.

“If something has become clear, it is that we have to do things well, excellent. We cannot lose the social support we have and the social support we came from. That which has meant that, when we were a very expensive technology, we have arrived here. We have to take care of that social support and not lose it under any circumstances. The dialogue is complex, it is not as easy as it seems. A plant has to be the result of a dialogue”, affirmed José Donoso, general director of UNEF, to conclude the Conference.


Ángel Sánchez, coordinator of Sustainable Development and Climate Change, of the Council for Ecological Transition and Sustainability of the Junta de Extremadura, gave an explanation about the experiences of sustainable integration of solar energy plants in Extremadura. “The autonomous communities are going to prepare a regulation for ecological restoration in which we will have to see the role that photovoltaic panels have in this process, analyzing the threatened species and the available places,” he recalled.

“We have to integrate biodiversity with a lot of information, with knowledge and precision, with mapping and analyzing the suitability of the project. The place most used to sleep by the lesser kestrel is a photovoltaic plant, because it is quiet and there are no people and livestock cannot enter either. And it is that the larger the photovoltaic plant, the greater the biodiversity, something that other people have already said before, but it is true”, he wanted to emphasize.

The coordinating director of Sustainable Development and Climate Change of the Junta de Extremadura concluded during the Conference on Sustainability and Energy that photovoltaic plants can have positive effects on biodiversity in species such as the Iberian lynx, among others.


During the Conference, the UNEF 2023 Seals of Excellence in Sustainability were also awarded to nine new ground-based solar energy projects for their high standards of social and environmental integration.

At present, there are seventeen solar energy projects on land belonging to the companies Iberdrola, Statkraft, Falck Renewables-Renantis, Esparity Solar and Verbund that have obtained the Seal of Excellence in Sustainability from UNEF, which shows that sustainability and solar energy are not mutually exclusive but are complementary and need each other to progress successfully on the path of energy transition.

The Seal of Excellence in Sustainability was created by UNEF in 2020 to disseminate good practices in the Spanish photovoltaic sector, reinforcing the commitment of the national photovoltaic sector to a sustainable energy transition.


In addition, this pioneering event had three spaces for debate and dialogue that brought together the main experts in solar energy, communication and cultural transformation with the main environmental groups in order to continue advancing in a coordinated and determined manner towards a fair and sustainable energy transition. , where solar energy has a leading role.

Different representatives of public institutions, Ministry of Ecological Transition, Demographic Challenge and Urban Agenda, Community of Madrid and Junta de Castilla La Mancha, as well as the Spanish Association for Environmental Impact Assessment valued the importance of the environmental processing process as a guarantor of the highest standards of social integration and environment of solar energy projects on the ground in the round table ‘Environmental processing as a guarantee of the energy transition’.

For his part, Carlos Redondo, general director of Energy Policy and Mines of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, recalled that “the current delays in the processing are not due so much to the fact that the process is long or complex and has many cases , but to the number of parallel projects that are generating certain delays and tensions. In a context in which several dozen DIAs are leaving in recent weeks in a very rigorous manner and meeting the expectations of society”.

In ‘The importance of dialogue with citizens for the culmination of the energy transition’, the need to advance in social dialogue to achieve the energy transition in Spain was addressed, focusing on the strategies and good practices that can be carried out to involve citizens and increase social receptivity.

During the meeting, Ízaro Assa de Amilibia, head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at BBVA, stressed the need to “strengthen social dialogue must be part of any transformation and citizens feel part of the change. It is the only way to generate systemic sustainability on which to base, with guarantees, the success of any transition”. “We are facing a moment of opportunity for Spain to take positions in the new world order. We are the country with the greatest potential in Europe for the production of solar energy and we are aware of generating an inclusive and sustainable transition”, he recalled.

In ‘Solar energy: An opportunity for biodiversity’, Mario Rodríguez, associate director of Just Transition and Global Alliances at Ecodes; Sara Pizzinato, consultant at Greenpeace; and Mar Asunción, head of WWF’s climate and energy program, concluded that the social and environmental integration of social energy projects is not only a general reality in photovoltaic projects, but has also become a transformed lever in our country. .

“We do not have to stick only to the Pniec, we have to be ambitious and since we make the effort, let it be not only to comply in 2030, but to achieve a decarbonization of the economy in 2040,” stressed the Greenpeace consultant.

(SERVIMEDIA) 20-JAN-2023 08:00 (GMT +1)S/clc

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