Supporting the integration of the mitigation hierarchy in the energy sector
IUCN and Enel signed a one-year agreement in September 2017, to support the company in identifying opportunities for increasing biodiversity values around its sites and raise awareness in the broader energy utility sector about best management practices.
The scope of the project focused on energy infrastructure, excluding transmission (powerlines). The work was organised around three work areas:
- Biodiversity risk and opportunity screening of infrastructure sites (thermal and renewable energy, excluding distribution lines);
- Biodiversity best practices for implementation of the mitigation hierarchy for energy infrastructure, including a focus on biodiversity offsets;
- Biodiversity reporting at corporate level.
Site visits formed a core element of the agreement
Enel produces, distributes and sells electricity and gas in more than 30 countries. IUCN experts visited a sample of four Enel sites: in Italy (thermal generation), Mexico (solar generation), Chile (thermal generation), and Brazil (hydro generation). The IUCN team met with the company’s experts in biodiversity, Health, Safety and Environment, and operations management to learn about the company’s current practices for avoiding and reducing impacts on biodiversity related to the energy infrastructures, as well as their biodiversity offset and compensation actions.
In addition, the project team assessed monitoring and corporate reporting needs, as well as verify the accuracy of the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) data with the information collected at the sites. The team also gathered feedback and suggestions on biodiversity measures specific to each site from local NGOs and other stakeholders. The information collected during the site visits was complemented by a desk-top review of documents provided by Enel on its biodiversity strategy and implementation projects.
The final outputs
As a result of these activities, IUCN developed a suite of recommendations based on:
- The effectiveness of the company’s current biodiversity practices
- Its track record in using a mitigation hierarchy approach
- The feasibility and effectiveness of biodiversity offsets at its renewable energy sites.
In addition, IUCN provided a detailed needs assessment on biodiversity reporting requirements for the company and a proposal for creating a corporate level dashboard system.
In parallel to this work, IUCN proposed:
- A methodology for assessing energy infrastructure biodiversity risks and opportunities using IBAT.
- A report listing infrastructure sites grouped according to the risk factors identified, enabling data-based prioritization of biodiversity actions.
Enel is the leading global operator in terms of production from renewable energy, operating in more than 30 countries with 1.9 million km of grid network and a net installed capacity of approximately 90 GW. In 2015, Enel developed a specific policy to safeguard biodiversity in its electricity generation, transmission and distribution activities, aligned to contribute to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi targets. Enel has started to integrate biodiversity into its operations, with some 160 nature conservation projects in 14 different countries, representing investments of EUR 12 million.