Biodiversity and nature protection are a priority at Vattenfall. It is one of the focus areas in our Environmental Policy and therefore also a central part in our environmental work. For us, biodiversity is a key issue for many new projects and operations, but we also invest heavily in long-term biodiversity research and we conduct many voluntary biodiversity projects to enhance local biodiversity values.
Our 2030 ambition – "Towards net positive impact"
By 2030, biodiversity enhancing measures are an integrated part of all activities with an impact on nature. Since climate change is one of the major threats to biodiversity, our investments in a fossil free future is a very important contribution to mitigate impacts, but we do much more to further safeguard biodiversity. By implementing a broad range of measures, both at existing sites and in new builds, we contribute to maintaining a health ecosystem and a living planet. We also work determinedly with our suppliers to address biodiversity impacts from upstream operations and we utilize forefront technologies to develop biodiversity management.
In order to work towards a Net Positive Impact, we have identified different targets and key activities for the next coming years. Some examples are:
Continue to be a leader in biodiversity research and development
Biodiversity research will remain critical for Vattenfall, particularly within wind- and hydropower. We will continue to prioritize the long-term biodiversity and evidence-based knowledge by dedicating annual budgets and sufficient R&D resources to reach our ambition. Additionally, by 2022 we will have conducted at least three pilot projects using our knowledge in machine learning to do large scale biodiversity surveys.
Biodiversity management in power line corridors
By the end of 2025 we will have taken measures and implemented management plans in at least 70% in all the identified biodiversity hotspots.
Biodiversity enhancing measures at office premises
By 2025 we will promote biodiversity enhancing measures at all office premises.
How we work to protect nature and biodiversity
Our efforts to protect biodiversity includes for example introducing biodiversity considerations early in projects and site planning, investing in biodiversity research and implementing a variety of different biodiversity projects.
We have a wide variety of projects linked to all energy sources as well as our premises. We are always looking for ways to meet biodiversity challenges and there are many examples of successfully implemented projects connected to all parts of Vattenfall’s activities.
Examples of ongoing projects
Voluntary protected areas
We protect rare and endangered species in several voluntary protected areas. Voluntary protected areas are sites with very high, and sometimes unique, biodiversity values. Through this voluntary initiative we preserve and manage biodiversity, but we also enhance recreation values and inform the public about the values in the different locations. We have four protected areas in northern Sweden located along the Lule River and one area located along the river Dalälven. Our newest protected area, “Kungsådran Älvkarleby”, was inaugurated in June 2018. The area has a unique combination of calcareous soil that gives rise to a rich flora and older trees.
Research and development for downstream fish migration
In Älvkarleby we have “Laxeleratorn”, a unique, large-scale laboratory for hydro power related environmental and hydraulic experiments. Here we conduct different kinds of research projects, many focusing on innovations for downstream fish migration, such as bubble curtains and flexible nets to avoid turbine passage. In addition to our many R&D projects an important part of our environmental work is to restore and provide natural habitats for different species. When Vattenfall sells electricity marked Good Environmental Choice, money is set aside to an environmental fund that has contribute to many restoration and conservation projects over the years.
Documenting seabird flight behaviour in an offshore wind farm
At the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) located in Aberdeen Bay, Scotland, a EUR 3 million research and monitoring programme has been set up to improve the evidence base for planning and impact assessment for future of offshore wind farms. Under this programme, there is currently a study undergoing aiming at documenting exactly how good seabirds like gannets, kittiwakes and herring gulls are at avoiding colliding with offshore wind turbines when commuting between breeding colonies on the coast and offshore feeding areas. The research programme in Aberdeen was awarded in the Sustainable Development category at the Nature of Scotland Awards in 2018.
More about the projects
Read more about Vattenfall's biodiversity projects.
Vattenfall invest heavily in biodiversity research, mainly in the wind and hydro power areas, with the aim of increasing knowledge in order to better conduct our operations with the smallest possible impact. We are for example:
- Developing an evidence-based modelling tool for assessment of the consequences of piling noise disturbance from wind farms on the harbour porpoise population
- Programming smart self-learning algorithms to improve fish migration in watercourses
- Using GPS tracking of golden eagles to better understand their activity and to improve impact assessment and siting of wind farms
- Conducting several experiential trials in the test flume in our laboratory in Älvkarleby in order to find technical solutions that maximize both renewable energy production and biodiversity protection
Biodiversity is complex and it is important to have simple and robust ways to measure the habitats and species that support biodiversity. For Vattenfall this is crucial so we can ensure that our climate investments also support biodiversity in different ways, and we are actively investigating different tools and methods to measure biodiversity. Our goal is to establish a way of working where we can value both biodiversity impacts from new projects as well as contributions from biodiversity enhancing measures we do across the company, and hence, increasing our understanding of how we can contribute to net positive impact (NPI).
Here are some examples of initiatives that we are currently involved in:
Science Based Target for Nature (SBTN)
The SBT for Nature initiative is currently being developed and it builds on the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), where more than 1,000 of the world’s largest companies have committed to greenhouse gas emissions-reduction targets. To contribute to the development of tools to set measurable targets that are in line with the best available science and Earth’s limits, Vattenfall joined the Science Based Targets Network Corporate Engagement Program in 2020. As a member of the Corporate Engagement Program we have committed to take the first step in the process of developing a science-based target for nature. During 2021 we will therefore start with an assessment of our value chain-wide impacts and dependencies on nature.
Read more about Science Based Target for Nature
Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)
A Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures will provide a framework for corporates and financial institutions to assess, manage and report on their dependencies and impacts on nature. The purpose is to guide investors when assessing nature-related risk so that the global financial flows away are redirected from nature-negative outcomes and towards nature-positive outcomes. Vattenfall has joined the Observer Group within TNFD in 2021 and will give our input to the development of the TNFD framework that will be in place in 2022.
Read more about Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures
Changing Land use Impact on Biodiversity (CLImB)
To actively participate in the development of new methods and guidance in Sweden, Vattenfall has joined the CLImB project. The aim of the project is to develop a tool that companies can use to credibly quantify and communicate both their negative and their positive impact on biodiversity when land is transformed or restored. Vattenfall has co-financed the project together with LKAB, Boliden, Skellefteå Kraft, Svenska kraftnät, Cementa, SCA and Specialfastigheter (2020-2021).