A new study has shown that the UK is among the leading countries threatening oversees biodiversity as a result of its use of renewable energy.
As of April, this year, there are over 7,700 onshore wind turbines and almost 2,000 offshore turbines in the United Kingdom. This has resulted in much speculation as to how the rise of wind power is affecting biodiversity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the issue, saying: “Wind-powered generation is good but are birds being taken into account in this case? How many birds are dying?”
According research from the London School of Economics, by 2020 there could be more that 9,600 bird deaths a year as a result of wind turbines in the UK. However, compared to the estimated 55m birds killed by British domestic cats, the impact of wind power is minimal.
Published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science, a new international study has sought to understand how the current attitudes towards the decarbonisation of electrical grid could be impacting biodiversity.
The collaborative study was between The University of Manchester, The University of Southampton, The University of College London and The University of California, Davis.
The paper highlights that the shift towards renewable electricity that is needed to combat climate change is likely to reduce the overall impact of energy creation on biodiversity. However, the impact of renewables on overseas biodiversity makes it difficult equate how ‘green’ British electric really is.
The team of researchers analysed the impact of fossil and renewable power sectors on nearly 4,000 threatened birds, mammals and amphibians. By tracing the threats these species face from the electric sector along global supply chains, researchers were able to examine the impact of all electricity production on wildlife.
The research concluded that he UK, Japan, China, USA and India are the top five countries where demand for electric power shifts much of its impact on biodiversity to other countries, as threats are displaced along international supply chains.
Alternatively, coal is still responsible for the largest reduction of biodiversity in the energy sector. However, as the demand for solar and wind energy increases, the impact of renewable energy sources is likely to increase.