As we lead the shift towards a renewable energy future, the number of energy installations will increase around the world. We are committed to managing the impacts on the environment caused by our activities in a responsible manner.
From construction to operations, we work to assess environmental risk, carefully weighing different concerns, and implementing mitigating activities. When constructing new power plants we use international good practice and guidance, and when in operation we follow environmental concessions and licenses.
Energy generation impacts the environment
All energy production has an environmental impact. We therefore have a strong focus on research and planning to predict, understand, and minimise the impacts on the environment from our activities.
Large-scale hydropower developments, for example, can lead to significant changes in natural areas. Freshwater species such as wild salmon, trout and freshwater mussel are vulnerable to migration barriers and changes in water temperature, flow and volume. We work systematically to minimise or mitigate such impacts through for instance improving fish habitat and spawning areas and support the migration of fish.
Wind farms have impacts on flying animals, birds and bats in particular, as well as migration patterns of land-based animals. We do comprehensive environmental impact assessments and implement identified measures, such as establishment of no-work zones during construction and operation. Impacted biodiversity areas and sensitive areas are identified early in the planning phase, and we compile information on red-listed bird species.
Solar farms can help to promote wildlife, biodiversity and agricultural sustainability. By restoring hedgerows and planting new trees and native plants, habitats are restored or created for a variety of species, from insects to birds and mammals. These also provide important corridors for pollinator species such as bumblebees to rest and feed, providing a benefit to farmers, gardeners and plant life far beyond the solar farm. At the same time, the soil under and around the solar panels is able to rest and recover over the life of the solar farm, while farmers gain an income which helps provide stability for their business helping to protect British farming and food production.
All our technologies have impact on the landscape by construction of infrastructure. We work to reduce or mitigate these impacts by revegetation projects, preserving soil, air and water from pollution and waste management.
Change in land use impacts biodiversity. As the number of land-intensive renewable energy projects increases, we must continuously work to implement and address the challenges as part of our daily operations and seek to minimise potentially negative impact.
Examples of environmental initiatives
Photo: John Petter Reinertsen
Water and sediment management
Regulated water bodies alters water and sediments in the habitat of aquatic species. Sediment accumulation is a consequence of water regulation and poses several challenges. We initiated a project to study the effect of these processes and to develop a mapping tool for surveillance and monitoring of in-stream sediment changes. The result is a very promising tool based on green laser technology in combination with state-of-the-art reports on sustainable sediment management in regulated rivers.
Photo: Lars Petter Pettersen
All large-scale energy generation has an impact on the environment. Our infrastructure does not only have an impact on the use of land and the environment, it also has a visual effect, especially related to outdoor activities. We take great pride in restoring quarries or deposits as close to its natural state as possible. We have participated in several research projects to find the best practice solutions for revegetation as well as developing optimal seed combination for specific nature areas.
Photo: Karl H. Ystanes
We are stocking roe, juveniles and fish as well as improving fish habitats and spawning areas. In Norway, the long-term goal is to achieve self-sustaining fish populations, where feasible. During the refurbishment of the Røssåga hydropower plant, a 650m stretch of the river was restored, offering better salmon spawning sites as well as a chance for hikers to access a previously inaccessible area. Following the refurbishment, a 40 per cent improvement in salmon spawning rates was recorded.
Photo: Dag Spant
Where natural recruitment of fish is impossible, we are stocking fish from its six hatcheries. With the Norwegian Environmental Agency, we manage a gene bank at Bjerka in Northern Norway to preserve the unique genetic material of five different wild salmon species from 188 distinct sources. In the river basins of Surna, Suldalslågen, Ulla and Skien, we have agreements with local fishing associations to catch adult salmon ready to spawn, so that their roe and milt can replenish our hatcheries.