In order to protect the environment, we complement our strategy of fighting against climate change with an environmentally responsible management of our wind farms. This strategy is based on the Environmental and Biodiversity policies. Our policies reflect a responsible management of the environment along the whole value chain. From the very early stages of project development – when it is critical to perform environmental and cultural feasibility studies – to the decommissioning of our wind farms – where our environmental strategy includes a waste management plan, environmental monitoring plans and habitat restoration. All this process is supported by an extensive local knowledge that allows us to ensure environmental compliance during the project life cycle.
Know more on EDPR 2015 Annual Report: Environmental performance.
In the initial stages of the development of a wind farm, we perform an early screening of critical environmental aspects of the project to determine whether potential environmental issues exist that may require further detailed assessment.
Afterwards, environmental impact assessment studies are usually performed, where potential positive and negative environmental impacts analysed. We study feasible alternatives to determine measures to prevent, minimize, mitigate or compensate adverse impacts and improve environmental performance.
During development phase, we carry out several environmental specific studies, being the birds’ annual cycle study one of the most relevant. The aim of this study is gathering information about the birds species’ present in the wind farm, as well as its behaviour, use of space, etc. Seasonal particularities as migration, breeding period, etc. are always considered since this kind of studies entail a full year of field work.
Cultural and historic studies are also essential at this stage since they are focused on the research of pertinent historic records and cultural resource databases. In addition, in some projects we also consult local representatives with an interest in historic preservation regarding cultural resources that may be impacted by the project. These consulted parties may have unique knowledge of cultural resources in the project area and vicinity that could otherwise be overlooked. The results of the research and consultation are used to aid in modifying the project design layout, where practicable.
Throughout the construction phase, we ensure that all main contractors are committed with the fulfilment of the environmental conditions and best environmental practices, through the inclusion of these requirements in the bidding documentation or in specific environmental management plans.
Additionally, through construction surveillance plans we are able to assure that all of these requirements are put in place, simplifying the identification of potential impacts and the implementation of corresponding preventive or corrective measures, when necessary.
Once construction has finished, the affected land is restored. The reseeding progress of disturbed areas after the completion of construction activities, is overseen by a third party environmental constructions monitor that makes recommendations, when necessary, to ensure success of reseeding efforts.
During the operation phase, we ensure the environmental legal compliance and the proper management of the environmental aspects through the EDPR Environmental Management System (EMS).
The EMS covers, among others, the procedures applicable to all wind farms in operation to establish operational controls, monitoring and measurements of the relevant environmental aspects. Environment surveillance is carried out periodically to assess the significance of the environmental aspects. The frequency of further surveillances is established in the monitoring plan given the assessment made.
Contractors, who are mainly related to third party operating and maintenance service providers, are required to follow the environmental legislation as well as the environmental policies, management systems and requirements of EDPR.
All wind farms in operation covered by the EMS, have operational controls in place, to monitor and measure the environmental aspects considered significant. These include water, electricity and other consumptions; greenhouse gases, noise and other emissions; hazardous and non-hazardous waste, among others.
Most of the electricity consumed in the wind farms comes from the same green electricity produced by them. However a small amount is consumed to power auxiliary services
Waste is another environmental aspect considered relevant in our wind farms, although the amount generated by them is considered relatively small in comparison to other energy generation processes. The main consumption and also the main waste produced in the wind farms is oil, which is used as a lubricant.
The company has been actively working to improve the recycling rate of its hazardous wastes, through authorized waste haulers, reaching more than 90% recovered.
Given our activity and our locations, oil spills and fires are the major environmental risks the company faces.
The Environmental Management System is designed and implemented to prevent emergency situations from happening. Although these environmental emergencies are not common due to the nature of our facilities and the business itself, we have developed an environmental near-miss system, to improve and anticipate crises. Furthermore, we defined an emergency response procedure to ensure that the steps to follow are clearly understood to overcome and control an emergency situation.
EDPR performs regular environmental drills to guarantee that our employees or any other person working on our behalf are familiar with the risks and have received the appropriate training to prevent and act, if necessary.
Our portfolio of wind farms is planned to be in operation for many years. Even at the end of the wind farms useful life, they may be repowered and their useful life extended. Nevertheless, our environmental strategy contemplates the restoration of the area occupied by our turbines, as well as, a waste management plan and an environmental monitoring plan.