Offshore Wind Turbines

Nature+Energy

Title

Nature+Energy. Adding value to Ireland’s renewable resources.

Start Date

2021

End Date

2025

Funding Body

Science Foundation Ireland

Research Partners

Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University

Project Partners

Wind Energy Ireland, NTR, SSE Renewables, Energia, ESB, EnergyPro, Ecopower, Greencoat and Ørsted

Principal Investigators

Dr Ian Donohue (Nature+, Trinity College Dublin)
Prof Jane Stout (Nature+, Trinity College Dublin)
Prof Yvonne Buckley (Nature+, Trinity College Dublin)
Prof Andrew Parnell (Hamilton Institute, Maynooth University)

Project Manager

Dr Aoibheann Gaughran (Nature+, Trinity College Dublin)

Research Area

Natural Capital Accounting, Environmental Monitoring, Climate and Biodiversity

Website

Natureplus.ie

Introduction

In 2020, Ireland’s ~305 wind farms supplied 37% of Ireland’s total electricity demand. Renewable electricity supply is set to rise to 70% by 2030 as new wind and solar farms are built. This expansion will help us to reduce our reliance on environmentally harmful fossil fuels and meet our climate change targets.

Nature+Energy is founded on the idea that wind farms have the potential to provide so much more than renewable energy. If managed properly, the biodiversity on onshore wind farms has the potential to take additional carbon out of the atmosphere, to improve the resilience of ecosystems to climate change and to enhance the provision of ecosystem services, such as pollination, water filtration and habitat provision. There is much potential to enhance nature’s contributions to people through improving our understanding of how habitat quality, diversity and connectivity can be enhanced by wind farm land-management for conservation.

Aim

Nature+Energy will develop new ways of accounting for the value of nature on onshore wind farms. We will design a state-of-the-art environmental monitoring system that will revolutionise how we measure and monitor biodiversity on wind farms. We will develop a sector-specific Natural Capital Accounts, Decision Support Tools and Biodiversity Action Plans to facilitate the enhancement of biodiversity and to mitigate the effects of wind farms on key species.

A graduate training programme will be co-developed by industry and academia partners with the goal of building human capacity in natural capital accounting, and will be key in delivering the upskilling required to facilitate Ireland’s transition to a net-zero society and economy.
By focusing on solutions for overcoming the twin problems of climate change and biodiversity loss, this project gives us the opportunity to showcase how researchers and industry can work together to develop genuine win-win scenarios for the economy, society and the environment.

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