Greening blue energy

07 May 2009 | News story

IUCN’s partnership project with E.ON is underway. IUCN and E.ON met to identify the key issues of offshore renewable energies and agree on a collaborative research programme.

Offshore and marine-based renewable energy is one of the new frontiers in the move towards a low-carbon world economy. According to estimates, over 7’000 offshore units are built or under development worldwide. Although research is still in its infancy, it is widely regarded that the potential impact on marine biodiversity – both above and below the waterline – is not negligible. IUCN has therefore embarked on a partnership with the multinational energy corporation E.ON to improve the environmental performance of offshore renewable energy projects covering offshore wind, wave and tidal energy.

At a kick-off meeting in February at E.ON’s Climate & Renewables headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany, IUCN met with the company to identify key issues and agree on a collaborative research programme. The key issues identified were:

  • Sound science needs to underscore the decision-making process. “IUCN will draw on its network of scientists and Commissions to tap into the latest available scientific research and will engage in consultations with a variety of stakeholders to move the process forward,” says Carl Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme. “The result will be a publicly-available guidance document for minimising the biodiversity impacts of offshore energy installations.”
     
  • E.ON have a wealth of corporate experience to draw on. “Our offshore activities play an important role in meeting our environmental target of reducing CO2 emissions, however it is vital that we also bear another important aspect in mind: protecting the environmental balance of the oceans,” says Frank Plümacher Head of Health, Saftey and Environment at E.ON Climate & Renewables . “E.ON’s own experience from prior environmental impact assessment records and field experience will be valuable in identifying the important issues to address.”
     
  • Guidelines to ensure best private sector practice. “The guidelines produced by this project will serve to inform the policy and practice of the private sector, the conservation community and governments,” says Nadine McCormick, Programme Officer, IUCN Energy and Biodiversity Leverage Initiative. “We also have support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to ensure that the guidance can be adapted to developing countries that have little or no experience of renewable energy developments on this scale.”