Making wind farms a biodiversity hotspot

Dr. Ian Donohue, Prof. Jane Stout, Prof. Yvonne Buckley

Wind farms on land in Ireland currently cover an area of 152km2, produce around 30% of Ireland’s electricity and are expected to expand with the urgent need for renewable energy sources to combat climate change. The addition and expansion of wind farms represents an opportunity for positive change for nature, while also adding ecosystem service benefits to society and the local communities.

By working with key players in the Irish wind energy sector and managers of wind farms, Nature+ researchers are exploring how positive biodiversity impacts can be provided through the creation and regeneration of habitats.

Dr. Ian Donohue is using new monitoring and analysis methods to understand how birds and bats move around wind farms to develop better strategies for reducing the risk of collision with turbines. Profs Jane Stout and Yvonne Buckley are developing methods for Natural Capital Asset Registers and Accounts, for tracking changes. Whole of industry, as well as local scale, mitigation options and species – and habitat-level sensitivity and stability assessments can be achieved by carrying out the appropriate research.

The Nature+ Energy Project will add significant value to green renewable energy and enhance its competitiveness through developing the template and tools that will enable wind farm managers to optimise land management and the delivery of natural capital co-benefits from onshore wind farms.

“By effectively monitoring, accounting for, and better managing nature on wind farms we can provide solutions that are a step in the right direction for both the climate and biodiversity crises”