Synergies and trade-offs between renewable energy expansion and biodiversity conservation – a cross-national multifactor analysis

Andrea Santangeli, Enrico Di Minin, Tuuli Toivonen, Mark Pogson, Astley Hastings, Pete Smith, Atte Moilanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Increased deployment of renewable energy can contribute towards mitigating climate change and improving air quality, wealth and development. However, renewable energy technologies are not free of environmental impacts; thus, it is important to identify opportunities and potential threats from the expansion of renewable energy deployment. Currently, there is no cross-national comprehensive analysis linking renewable energy potential simultaneously to socio-economic and political factors and biodiversity priority locations. Here, we quantify the relationship between the fraction of land-based renewable energy (including solar photovoltaic, wind and bioenergy) potential available outside the top biodiversity areas (i.e. outside the highest ranked 30% priority areas for biodiversity conservation) within each country, with selected socio-economic and geopolitical factors as well as biodiversity assets. We do so for two scenarios that identify priority areas for biodiversity conservation alternatively in a globally coordinated manner vs. separately for individual countries. We show that very different opportunities and challenges emerge if the priority areas for biodiversity protection are identified globally or designated nationally. In the former scenario, potential for solar, wind and bioenergy outside the top biodiversity areas is highest in developing countries, in sparsely populated countries and in countries of low biodiversity potential but with high air pollution mortality. Conversely, when priority areas for biodiversity protection are designated nationally, renewable energy potential outside the top biodiversity areas is highest in countries with good governance but also in countries with high biodiversity potential and population density. Overall, these results identify both clear opportunities but also risks that should be considered carefully when making decisions about renewable energy policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1200
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Change Biology. Bioenergy
Volume8
Issue number6
Early online date29 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

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Biodiversity
renewable energy sources
Conservation
biodiversity
energy
bioenergy
Potential energy
potential energy
socioeconomics
analysis
energy policy
Economics
Solar wind
solar energy
air quality
Energy policy
assets
air pollution
governance
Air pollution

Keywords

  • Air pollution mortality
  • Bioenergy
  • Control of corruption
  • Governance
  • International investment
  • Offsetting
  • Spatial conservation prioritization
  • Trade-off

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal

Cite this

Synergies and trade-offs between renewable energy expansion and biodiversity conservation – a cross-national multifactor analysis. / Santangeli, Andrea; Di Minin, Enrico; Toivonen, Tuuli; Pogson, Mark; Hastings, Astley; Smith, Pete; Moilanen, Atte.

In: Global Change Biology. Bioenergy, Vol. 8, No. 6, 11.2016, p. 1191-1200.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Santangeli, Andrea ; Di Minin, Enrico ; Toivonen, Tuuli ; Pogson, Mark ; Hastings, Astley ; Smith, Pete ; Moilanen, Atte. / Synergies and trade-offs between renewable energy expansion and biodiversity conservation – a cross-national multifactor analysis. In: Global Change Biology. Bioenergy. 2016 ; Vol. 8, No. 6. pp. 1191-1200.
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