Workshop on “Birds and Energy” Under the Migratory Soaring Birds project
Under the Migratory Soaring Birds – MSB project, the Birdlife Middle East Office in collaboration with NCE and EEAA organized a regional conference on Birds and Energy from 8 – 10 October 2022.
The conference included an overview of the situation of powerlines and wind energy in Egypt in the first day. The second day provided lessons learned and international experience in the field and the impact on migratory birds. The third was a field visit to the largest wind farm in Egypt located in Jabal El Zeit, clarifying the mitigation measures adopted such as trained ranges, and shutdown on demand.
Three wind farms have been approved in Lebanon and are expected to start installation soon. It is crucial to integrate needed mitigation measures from the onset of the projects.
Wind energy generation can play an important role in the reduction in the use of fossil fuels for energy production and therefore their associated greenhouse and toxic gas emissions and land use issues. Wind Energy is likely to play a vital role in the region and in the shift to more climate friendly and sustainable sources of energy. However wind energy developments require substantial infrastructure to be placed across a landscape and where these turbines are inappropriately placed they may have a negative effect on birds. There is a need to balance the risks and benefits and to minimise any adverse environmental effects.
Currently, wind energy comprises about 0.5 % of global energy production, but is anticipated to increase significantly in response to concerns over the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat anthropogenic climate change. It has been suggested by 2030 that wind energy may be responsible for 5 – 30 % of global energy production meaning a drastic increase in the amount of turbines worldwide. Investments in wind energy in the region are increasing, leading to a large number of ambitious large scale development plans. As part of it renewable energy commitment Egypt has a target of 12% of energy being generated by wind by 2020, and 650 km2 of land adjacent to the Red Sea has been identified for wind farm development.
Wind energy developments may impact on birds and bird populations in three different ways
Collision: with turbines and blades leading to death or injury
Displacement/Barrier: from habitats or along preferred migratory routes
Habitat impacts: fragmentation of landscape, or site specific damage
The MSB project has developed a set of guidance material which is targeted at key audiences involved within the wind energy sector. These materials are tailored toward and provide a framework in which to integrate bird and biodiversity concerns throughout the life cycle of a project and reduce any adverse impacts that may potentially occur.
The most important consideration is location, location, location. Inappropriately located or designed farms will have an negative impact but strategically planned and designed developments will have little adverse affect.
The documents are designed to be used by each stakeholder group but can also be used by organisations when approaching the differing stakeholder groups for advocacy purposes, for instance a local community can refer to both to the civil society guidance, while also approaching a developer with the developer guidance.
Alongside the guidance material we have produced a series of case studies which relate to the impact of wind energy developments and references to mitigation actions which are being used within the region and around the world. We have also provided links to external resources which provide valuable background information and advice.
The sensitivity mapping tool which is being developed and constantly refined can also be found and utilised. It provides a valuable resource and tool which can aid in identifying areas where there is a high risk of vulnerability for birds and important bird areas across the region.
Governments play an important role in setting the standards and legislative environment in which development of wind farms is delivered. By providing the appropriate legislative and regulatory environment governments can ensure birds and biodiversity impacts or reduced. The MSB project has provided a guidance document tailored towards governments in the region which will inform governments of actions which should be carried out to reduce the adverse impacts on birds and biodiversity