Impacts and co-benefits of the energy transition on terrestrial ecosystems – implications and prospects for Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services

Over the last decade, the transition towards low-carbon and renewable energy systems (RES) has accelerated significantly around the world. This has been in response to both national and international policies as well as incentives promoting the decarbonisation of energy systems to meet climate change targets. However, the low-carbon energy transition has precipitated expansive land use change, recognised by the IPBES as the greatest driver of ecosystem degradation. Subsequent impacts on biodiversity and related ecosystem processes have major implications for natural capital (NC) and ecosystem service (ES) provision within and beyond the hosting ecosystem.

The objective of this session is to pool ecological, technological and societal research and gather new evidence and insights from around the world on the effects of the low-carbon energy transition on terrestrial ecosystems relating to NC and ES. This session also aims to explore innovative methods to enhance the ecosystem sustainability of the low-carbon energy transition. Studies may (but are not limited to):

• Present the effects of different RES (e.g., solar energy, wind energy, biogas, smart and decentralised energy systems) on specific pools of NC (e.g., soil, atmosphere, habitat, biodiversity, biotic resources) and/or the provision of ES (e.g., nutrient cycling, local climate regulation, biomass production, pollination);
• Discuss the implications of the energy transition to the long-term sustainability of different hosting ecosystems (e.g., temperate grasslands, arid ecosystems) or human-made systems (e.g., arable land);
• Discuss the societal implications of increased RES (e.g., community acceptance of changing natural/semi-natural landscapes);
• Discuss the policy implications (at national or international level) and potential economic consequences of incorporating NC and ES in the land use decision-making process when planning for RES;
• Discuss the opportunities offered by different RES to enhance environmental co-benefits and ecological outcomes that support NC and ES;
• Present methods to maximise techno-ecological synergies that provide beneficial relationships between technological and ecological systems to increase the sustainability of RES.

We encourage abstracts based on empirical evidence or those that take a modelling or framework approach to present solutions to the sustainable integration of RES within local ecosystems.

Public information:
This session will discuss the impacts and opportunities brought about by the transition to low-carbon energy for natural capital and ecosystem services of hosting ecosystems. Presentations will cover bioenergy, wind energy and solar energy, as well as potential impacts of land use change, grid infrastructure and natural resource extraction. Authors will showcase a variety of approaches to tackle these issues, including life cycle analyses, in situ collection of empirical data and literature review. Studies will cover a wide geographical area, from North America to Europe and Asia, and include a diverse range of terrestrial ecosystems, from temperate grasslands to deserts.

The session material attached below provides a brief introduction to the session topic. In addition, follow the link by clicking on 'Visit asset' (after clicking on 'Session materials') to watch a short film on the need and potential to embed positive ecological outcomes into energy systems decarbonisation, featuring industry and policy experts, as well as leading scientists in the field.
Convener: Fabio Carvalho | Co-conveners: Hollie BlaydesECSECS, Sam RobinsonECSECS, Maria Thaker, Grace WuECSECS
vPICO presentations
| Thu, 29 Apr, 15:30–17:00 (CEST)
Public information:
This session will discuss the impacts and opportunities brought about by the transition to low-carbon energy for natural capital and ecosystem services of hosting ecosystems. Presentations will cover bioenergy, wind energy and solar energy, as well as potential impacts of land use change, grid infrastructure and natural resource extraction. Authors will showcase a variety of approaches to tackle these issues, including life cycle analyses, in situ collection of empirical data and literature review. Studies will cover a wide geographical area, from North America to Europe and Asia, and include a diverse range of terrestrial ecosystems, from temperate grasslands to deserts.

The session material attached below provides a brief introduction to the session topic. In addition, follow the link by clicking on 'Visit asset' (after clicking on 'Session materials') to watch a short film on the need and potential to embed positive ecological outcomes into energy systems decarbonisation, featuring industry and policy experts, as well as leading scientists in the field.

Session assets

Session materials

vPICO presentations: Thu, 29 Apr

Chairpersons: Hollie Blaydes, Fabio Carvalho, Sam Robinson
Broad perspectives
Sarah Klain and Lauren Tango

Various philanthropic, development and agricultural organizations have begun to prioritize regenerative development, which aims to reverse ecological degradation while generating benefits, including ecosystem services, for people and biodiversity. These efforts aim to transcend sustainable development, which aims to minimize harm to the environment and human health. Here, we review the literature on ways in which renewable energy infrastructure could play important roles in regenerative development initiatives, e.g., offshore wind projects designed with artificial reef structures, photovoltaic (PV) projects accompanied with pollinator plantings, and agrivoltaics that combine crops with PV. We also identify anticipated challenges to such development, e.g., potentially larger land area requirements and higher costs than typical renewable energy development. Lastly, we provide recommendations on policies and practices that could strengthen the role of renewable energy in regenerative development.

How to cite: Klain, S. and Tango, L.: Opportunities for renewable energy in regenerative development, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13670,, 2021.

A life cycle perspective on the land use and ecosystem services of energy transitions
Sarah Jordaan
Wind energy
Jay Diffendorfer, Anthony Lopez, Wayne Thogmartin, Trieu Mai, Bethany Straw, Brad Udell, and Asthon Wiens

Renewable energy has crossed key technological hurdles related to costs and energy system stability yet impacts to wildlife may present a long-term challenge to the development and operation of renewables.  We describe a number of approaches to address interdisciplinary questions related to enhancing renewable energy development while minimizing unintended consequences to wildlife and habitat.  These approaches range from relatively simple geospatial models and Monte Carlo simulations to more sophisticated integration of spatially explicit techno-economic/physics wind energy forecasting models with bat population models. We present results from demographic models estimating impacts from future wind energy development, how including geographic constraints related to conserving natural capitol and ecosystem services may impact wind energy development and costs, and early work on temporally dynamic integration of energy and population models. We then summarize a few broader ideas on integrated modelling related to ecosystem services and energy systems. 

How to cite: Diffendorfer, J., Lopez, A., Thogmartin, W., Mai, T., Straw, B., Udell, B., and Wiens, A.: Integrating wind energy forecasting and species population models to consider trade offs in a lower carbon future. , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13887,, 2021.

Gang Wang, Guoqing Li, and Alona Armstrong

Surface meteorology regulates ecosystem processes, with implications for the supply of important ecosystem services. Wind farms have been shown to alter the local climate, but there have been limited field measurements of the variability of impact in different directions relative to the find farm. In addition, the influence of land coverage variability on atmosphere temperature and humidity has not been eliminated, which will lead to the impact of wind turbines on atmosphere temperature and humidity may be over topped or underestimated. Here, we show the impact of Huitengliang wind power base, China, on air temperature and humidity using data from five automatic meteorological monitoring stations. After eliminating the influences of land surface coverage as much as possible, by comparing the variability of temperature and humidity inside the wind farm, and in the upwind, downwind and side wind directions, daily and seasonal variations in temperature and humidity were obtained. We found that wind turbines increase the temperature and decrease the humidity of the surface atmosphere, the influences are more obvious than the existing results. Particularly, these effects are most obvious in the upwind and downwind directions. The annual average temperature rise was 0.97 °C in the upwind direction and 1.25 °C in the downwind direction. On average throughout the year, humidity decreased by 3.71 % in the upwind direction and 5.66 % in the downwind direction. The magnitudes of these effects are sufficient to alter ecosystem processes, including greenhouse gas emissions, with implications for the carbon intensity of electricity generation. 

How to cite: Wang, G., Li, G., and Armstrong, A.: Wind turbine operation influences near surface air temperature and humidity, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-768,, 2021.

Caspar Donnison, Robert Holland, Zoe Harris, Felix Eigenbrod, and Gail Taylor

Whilst dedicated bioenergy crops with non-food uses are currently sparsely deployed across the world, most future energy pathways necessitate a sizeable scale-up of 100-500 million ha of land converted to these crops to provide both energy substitutes for fossil fuels and negative emissions through bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). In the face of expected bioenergy expansion, understanding the environmental and societal impact of this land-use change is important in determining where and how bioenergy crops should be deployed, and the trade-offs and co-benefits to the environment and society. Here we review the existing literature on two difficult to measure impacts which could prove critical to the future wide-scale acceptability of global bioenergy cropping in the temperate environment: biodiversity and amenity value. We focus on agricultural landscapes, since this is where large-scale bioenergy planting may be required. A meta-analysis of 42 studies on the biodiversity impacts of land-use change from either arable and grassland to bioenergy crops found strong benefits for bird abundance (+ 109 % ± 24 %), bird species richness (+ 100 % ± 31 %), arthropod abundance (+ 299 % ± 76 %), microbial biomass (+ 77 % ± 24 %), and plant species richness (+ 25 % ± 22 %) and a non-significant upward trend in earthworm abundance. Land-use change from arable land led to particularly strong benefits, providing an insight into how future land-use change to bioenergy crops could support biodiversity. Evidence concerning the impact of bioenergy crops on landscape amenity value highlighted the importance of landscape context, planting strategies, and landowner motivations in determining amenity values, with few generalizable conclusions. In this first meta-analysis to quanitfy the impacts of land-use change to bioenergy on on biodiversity and amenity,  we have demonsrated  improved farm-scale biodiversity on agricultural land but also demonstrated the lack of knowledge concerning public response to bioenergy crops which could prove crucial to the political feasibility of bioenergy policies such as BECCS.

How to cite: Donnison, C., Holland, R., Harris, Z., Eigenbrod, F., and Taylor, G.: Improved biodiversity from food to energy: Meta-analysis of land-use change to dedicated bioenergy crops, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6737,, 2021.

Anita Shepherd and Astley Hastings

Miscanthus x giganteus thrives on poor soils, requiring little or no farm operations except annual harvest, efficiently recycles nutrients into the rhizome at senescence to be reused the following season and has a high water efficiency compared to other arable crops.  As such it is a popular choice for bioenergy crop growers, it can thrive on waste land, or poor agricultural soils that cannot give sufficient economic returns for food crops in many areas of the world.

We present work to better understand the global potential for M x giganteus yields and impacts as a bioenergy crop grown in the 21st century under IPCC climate RCP 8.5 and using the MiscanFor bioenergy model, showing how bioenergy crops compare across different countries for dry matter yield, water use, and soil carbon. We also show the uncertainty of projections inherent in choosing input data and the sensitivity of the model.

How to cite: Shepherd, A. and Hastings, A.: Impacts of miscanthus growth on soil carbon and water deficit, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-585,, 2021.

Solar energy
Greg A Barron-Gafford, Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, Kai Lepley, and Andrea Gerlak

We have significant vulnerabilities across our food, water, and energy systems – any of which could undermine societal resilience in light of growing populations and climatic change. Rising average temperatures, extremes in precipitation, and more severe storms present increasing agricultural production risks – particularly across dryland regions. Land managers across the southwestern United States are already feeling the pressures of a changing climate. Between 11–21% of the total irrigated acreage experienced yield declines over the past 40 years due to irrigation interruptions — despite increased water usage. Food producers are experiencing increased uncertainties around production security from severe weather, interest rates to invest in climate adaptations, income support payments or incentives, and climate-related risks to pollinator abundance that affect crop yields and labor conditions and availability. Combined with trends towards increases in retirements from farming, these risks are leading to more land moving out of food production — often shifting to energy production. A growing demand for photovoltaic (PV) solar energy from ground-mounted systems, projected to require ~8,000 km2 by 2030, is resulting in an increase of land-use conflicts for these two primary needs — food and energy. Is it possible to improve both food and renewable energy production security sustainably? An ‘either-or’ discourse between food and PV solar energy production unnecessarily compounds issues related to allocating space, water, and capital for development of sustainable strategies.

We believe that a hybrid agricultural-PV solar ‘agrivoltaics’ can increase resilience in food and renewable energy production, water and soil conservation, and rural prosperity and economic development—critical sustainability metrics. However, successful adoption of this technology requires research from a socio-environmental systems perspective to optimize bio-technical trade-offs at the field scale, while also rigorously assessing the sociopolitical barriers and how to overcome them at both individual and societal levels. Our research design is centered on stakeholder engagement approaches with impactful, associated outreach activities to communicate and enhance the reach of potential benefits of agrivoltaics. An emerging trend in sustainability research has been to recognize that resource challenges need to be addressed as integrated and interconnected sets of issues, where outcomes result from interacting social (S), ecological (E), and technological (T) subsystems (SETS). Often, sustainability transitions are seen more as a governance challenge than an infrastructure or technological challenge. That is, while technological solutions such as agrivoltaics can be developed, the adoption and spread of innovations takes place through a myriad of social, political, and economic processes. This is further complicated across food and energy systems, where multiple stakeholders present different backgrounds, cultures, demographics, and decision making processes. We describe an evaluation of agrivoltaic systems from a holistic SETS perspective in order to develop implementation pathways for widespread adoption of agrivoltaics across the US.

How to cite: Barron-Gafford, G. A., Pavao-Zuckerman, M., Lepley, K., and Gerlak, A.: Co-locating Food and Energy Production to Create Sustainable Agricultural Systems, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13541,, 2021.

Lucy Treasure, Dr Alona Armstrong, Dr Stuart Sharp, Dr Simon Smart, and Dr Guy Parker

The energy sector is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore it is imperative that we take steps to de-carbonise energy supplies if we are to meet the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement.  Of the existing renewable energy technologies, Photovoltaic (PV) capacity has seen exponential growth in the past decade, with 508.1 GW of PV currently installed globally and predictions that it will become the dominant renewable energy source by 2050. A large proportion of this capacity is deployed as ground-mounted solar parks. Despite the rapid growth of solar parks, little research has been conducted into the ecosystem impacts. Here we use a systematic literature review of the available evidence to show that the main ecosystem impacts of solar parks can be grouped into five themes: microclimate, land-use change, soil and vegetation, wildlife impacts and pollution. Impacts can be positive or negative, and vary according to site location, former land use and management practices throughout the construction, operational and decommissioning phases of the solar park life cycle. The most widely reported impacts associated with the construction phase were habitat loss and fragmentation, with subsequent effects on fauna, flora, and soil. Commonly reported operational impacts included changes to local microclimate, pollution, mortality of wildlife and disturbance due to site maintenance. Decommissioning impacts depended largely on the site management objectives; sites continued to be managed to deliver ecosystem service co-benefits or returned to their original state prior to construction. The review also revealed significant knowledge gaps. Understanding the ecosystem impacts of solar parks is pivotal, both for informing site management that maximises ecosystem co-benefits and avoids detrimental impacts, and for quantifying the potential ecosystem costs and gains as required by policy, for example the upcoming mandatory biodiversity net gain requirement for UK planning applications.

How to cite: Treasure, L., Armstrong, D. A., Sharp, D. S., Smart, D. S., and Parker, D. G.: Is it possible to embed the ecosystem impacts of solar parks into industry practice?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2927,, 2021.

Steven M. Grodsky and Rebecca R. Hernandez

Deserts are prioritized as recipient environments for solar energy development; however, the impacts of this development on desert plant communities are unknown. Desert plants represent long-standing ecological, economic and cultural resources for humans, especially indigenous peoples, but their role in supplying ecosystem services (ESs) remains understudied. We measured the effect of solar energy development decisions on desert plants at one of the world’s largest concentrating solar power plants (Ivanpah, California; capacity of 392 MW). We documented the negative effects of solar energy development on the desert scrub plant community. Perennial plant cover and structure are lower in bladed treatments than mowed treatments, which are, in turn, lower than the perennial plant cover and structure recorded in undeveloped controls. We determined that cacti species and Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) are particularly vulnerable to solar development (that is, blading, mowing), whereas Schismus spp.—invasive annual grasses—are facilitated by blading. The desert scrub community confers 188 instances of ESs, including cultural services to 18 Native American ethnic groups. Cultural, provisioning and regulating ESs of desert plants are lower in bladed and mowed treatments than in undeveloped controls. Our study demonstrates the potential for solar energy development in deserts to reduce biodiversity and socioecological resources, as well as the role that ESs play in informing energy transitions that are sustainable and just.

How to cite: Grodsky, S. M. and Hernandez, R. R.: Reduced ecosystem services of desert plants from ground-mounted solar energy development, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8046,, 2021.

Alona Armstrong, Lauren Brown, Gemma Davies, Duncan Whyatt, and Simon Potts

To mitigate climate change, land take for renewable energy is accelerating at a time of increasing land use pressure and environmental degradation. Given land use change is the dominant driver of nature decline, over and above that of climate change, inclusion of local ecosystem consequences of land take for renewable energy decisions is critical. However, consideration of ecosystem impacts is hindered by lack of understanding and robust quantification methodologies. Here, we quantify the economic benefits of installing honeybee hives in solar parks by estimating the potential contribution to crop yields. We estimated that if honeybee hives were installed in all existing solar parks within England, pollination service benefits for pollinator dependent field crops, top fruits and soft fruit would have been £5.9 million in 2017, grounded in honeybee pollination crop values of £4.81-£75.04 ha-1 for field crops and £635-£10,644 ha-1 for fruit. If crop distributions were optimised to maximise solar park honeybee pollination, economic benefits could reach up to £80 million per year. However, this indicative of the maximum possible return and is unlikely to be viable given the other factors that influence crop distribution. Quantification of ecosystem co-benefits and costs of land take for renewable energy could inform location and management decisions, with the potential to improve ecosystem health in addition to energy system decarbonisation.

How to cite: Armstrong, A., Brown, L., Davies, G., Whyatt, D., and Potts, S.: Economic benefits of establishing honeybee hives on solar parks in agricultural landscapes, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8257,, 2021.

Leroy Walston and Heidi Hartmann

Concomitant with the increase in solar photovoltaic (PV) energy development over the past decade has been the increasing emphasis on land sharing strategies that maximize the land use efficiency of solar energy developments.  Many of these strategies focus on improving the compatibility of solar energy development with other co-located land uses (e.g., agriculture) and by improving several ecosystem services that could have natural, societal, and industrial benefits. One such land opportunity is the restoration and management of native grassland vegetation beneath ground-mounted PV solar energy facilities, which has the potential to restore native habitat to conserve biodiversity and restore previously altered ecosystem services (e.g., natural pollination services). This presentation will discuss various assessment and modeling approaches to evaluate the scale and magnitude of the ecosystem services provided by different vegetation management strategies at solar PV energy development sites. This work demonstrates how multifunctional land uses in energy systems represents a win-win solution for energy and the environment by optimizing energy-food-ecology synergies. This work was conducted by Argonne National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.

How to cite: Walston, L. and Hartmann, H.: Evaluating the Ecosystem Service Benefits of Native Vegetation Management at Solar Energy Facilities, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7838,, 2021.

Ryan Holland, Alona Armstrong, and Fabio Carvalho

Following the Paris agreement, many nations have committed to targets of net zero emissions, resulting in a significant increase in low-carbon energy generation. Recent improvements in the cost and efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) technology have made their deployment cheaper than new coal and gas fired power stations in a number of regions, with the uptake of PV projected to surpass fossil fuels by 2035. Large-scale, ground-mounted systems are likely to constitute a considerable portion of this expansion, with the International Energy Agency suggesting that 69% of new capacity additions in 2021 will be utility scale deployments (although some of this may be building-mounted). Despite the expansion of ground-mounted solar parks and the knowledge that land use change is a greater threat to nature than climate change, there is very little understanding of the environmental implications. In particular, the effect on ecosystem carbon cycling, and thus the decarbonisation attraction of the technology, is unknown. Whilst the carbon impacts of the technological components have been relatively well resolved, the true carbon costs cannot be determined without quantifying the impacts on land carbon. Here, we present a solar park carbon calculator (SPCC) that quantifies the full suite of solar park carbon impacts.

The SPCC provides information on the technological and environmental carbon flows, drawing on established quantifications of carbon costs for system components, operation, and land management. Key components include the emissions factors for production of panels and mounts, machinery related emissions and the associated carbon flows of ground disturbances, before and after park construction. The SPCC is applied to a case-study solar park, providing insight into the dominant carbon flows and payback time in light of grid electricity carbon intensities. Ultimately, the SPCC can help inform solar park developer decisions in order to minimise carbon costs and maximise carbon sequestration.

How to cite: Holland, R., Armstrong, A., and Carvalho, F.: Development of a Solar Park Carbon Calculator (SPCC) to assist deployment decisions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7677,, 2021.

Extended energy impacts and opportunities
Kathryn G. Logan, John D. Nelson, James D. Chapman, Jenny Milne, and Astley Hastings

Transitioning away from internal combustion engine private vehicles in favour of public transport, including electric and hydrogen alternatives, is recognised as an essential part of the solution to reduce the scale of climate change and meet net zero in the UK by 2050. This decarbonisation transition to low carbon transport will likely result in an increase in energy demand which will have impacts on both ecosystem services (ES) and natural capital (NC). Robust projections of societal energy demands post low carbon transition are therefore required to ensure adequate power generation is installed. In this study, we project the energy demand for electric and hydrogen cars, buses and trains between 2020 and 2050 based on the number of vehicles and distance travelled using the Transport Energy Air Pollution UK (TEAM-UK) model outputs. In this work, the spatial requirements of additional renewable energy (onshore/offshore wind and solar), nuclear and fossil fuels, on ES and NC was predicted by considering the expected electricity generation mix expected by 2050, the number of generation installations and energy density of each energy source. The outcomes of this analysis can assist policymakers in better understanding what energy types and transport networks need to be prioritised to efficiently meet net zero. Legislation requires increased low carbon electricity generation, though the impact on ES and NC are not currently quantified.

Energy demand was lower for electric transport (136,599 GWh) than hydrogen transport (425,532 GWh) for all vehicle types in 2050, however a combination of both power types will be needed to accommodate the full range of socioeconomic requirements. In addition, to power electrical transport, 1,515 km2 of land will be required for solar, 1,672 km2 for wind and 5 km2 for expansion of the average nuclear power station by 2050. This will be approximately doubled for hydrogen provision due to the additional energy and conversions required to generate hydrogen.

In reality the finer scale mix between hydrogen and electric transport types in the future will depend on geographical location and resource availability. Rural areas may favour hydrogen power due to range restrictions, with electric transport more readily suited to urban areas with greater installed infrastructure. To reduce the requirements for additional electricity and maximise carbon output decreases, minimising the impact on NC and ES, policymakers need to focus on encouraging a modal shift towards low carbon public transport from private vehicles and to ensure a more sustainable route to decarbonising transport.

How to cite: Logan, K. G., Nelson, J. D., Chapman, J. D., Milne, J., and Hastings, A.: Decarbonising UK transport: Implications for electricity generation, land use and policy, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-122,, 2021.

Maximilian Eckhardt, Hung Pham, Markus Schedel, and Ingo Sass

The transition towards renewable energy systems leads to increased loads on the electrical power grid. As a result, many transmission lines have to be extended or newly built. According to a government resolution, in Germany the preferred implementation of new high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) electric power transmission systems should be buried power cables.

When operating buried power cables, the mechanical and thermal properties of the cable bedding need to meet certain requirements. On the one hand, accurate positioning and protection of the cable and protection pipe from mechanical stress demand mechanical stability. On the other hand, electric losses during transmission result in thermal energy that needs to be dissipated. Since the ampacity of the cable depends on the maximum permissible temperature of the conductor, the potential load of the power line is directly connected to the thermal properties of the bedding.

To ensure both of these technical requirements, the pre-existing soil mostly is disposed and replaced by sand or artificial fluidized backfill materials with well-known material properties, resulting in potentially high logistical effort, environmental impact and costs. One way to address these effects could be the reuse of the excavated soils as a basic material for the on-site production of a fluidized backfill material, allowing for the adjustment of soil properties (within limits) by adding cement and other additives. By enhancing the thermal properties of the cable bedding, the ampacity of the cable route can be increased, potentially reducing land use due to smaller dimensions of the cable trench. Reusing excavated soils further reduces potential land use, since less material needs to be disposed in landfill sites. 

Within the scope of our research, the technical and economical possibilities and limits of reusing excavated soils for the production of fluidized backfill materials are explored. In addition, the stability of fluidized backfill materials under cyclic load scenarios is investigated to assess possible alterations of such materials during cable operation, which may affect the long-term efficiency of the transmission system.

How to cite: Eckhardt, M., Pham, H., Schedel, M., and Sass, I.: Investigation of Fluidized Backfill Materials for Optimized Bedding of Buried Power Cables, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5654,, 2021.

Sebastian Dunnett, Robert A Holland, Gail Taylor, and Felix Eigenbrod

Protected areas and renewable energy generation are key tools to combat biodiversity loss and climate change respectively. Over the coming decades, very large-scale expansion of renewable energy infrastructure will be needed to meet climate change targets, while simultaneously large-scale expansion of the protected area network to meet conservation objectives is planned. However, renewable energy infrastructure has negative effects on wildlife, and co-occurrence may mean emissions targets are met at the expense of conservation objectives. However, data limitations mean that the degree of likely future conflict of these two key land management objectives has not been fully assessed. Here, we address this gap by examining current and projected future overlaps of wind and solar photovoltaic installations and important conservation areas globally using new spatially explicit wind and solar photovoltaic data, and new methods for predicting future renewable expansion. We show similar levels of co-occurrence of important conservation areas and wind and solar installations as previous studies but also show that once area is accounted for previous concerns about overlaps in Northern Hemisphere may be largely unfounded, though are high in some high-biodiversity countries (e.g. Brazil). Future projections of overlap between the two land uses are generally lower than previously predicted using new data, with regional correlation coefficients peaking at -0.3418 and 0.2053, suggesting a low risk of future conflict. Our results show that the current and future overlap of the two land uses may not be as severe as previously suggested. This is important, as global efforts to decarbonise energy systems are central to mitigating against climate change and against the strong negative impacts of projected climate change on biodiversity.

How to cite: Dunnett, S., A Holland, R., Taylor, G., and Eigenbrod, F.: Predicting future energy and biodiversity trade-offs globally, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16317,, 2021.