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1. chinaXiv:201605.00544 [pdf]

Global change synergies and trade‐offs between renewable energy and biodiversity

Andrea Santangeli; Tuuli Toivonen; Federico Montesino Pouzols; Mark Pogson; Astley Hastings; Pete Smith; Atte Moilanen
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

Reliance on fossil fuels is causing unprecedented climate change and is accelerating environmental degradation and global biodiversity loss. Together, climate change and biodiversity loss, if not averted urgently, may inflict severe damage on ecosystem processes, functions and services that support the welfare of modern societies. Increasing renewable energy deployment and expanding the current protected area network represent key solutions to these challenges, but conflicts may arise over the use of limited land for energy production as opposed to biodiversity conservation. Here, we compare recently identified core areas for the expansion of the global protected area network with the renewable energy potential available from land-based solar photovoltaic, wind energy and bioenergy (in the form of Miscanthus × giganteus). We show that these energy sources have very different biodiversity impacts and net energy contributions. The extent of risks and opportunities deriving from renewable energy development is highly dependent on the type of renewable source harvested, the restrictions imposed on energy harvest and the region considered, with Central America appearing at particularly high potential risk from renewable energy expansion. Without restrictions on power generation due to factors such as production and transport costs, we show that bioenergy production is a major potential threat to biodiversity, while the potential impact of wind and solar appears smaller than that of bioenergy. However, these differences become reduced when energy potential is restricted by external factors including local energy demand. Overall, we found that areas of opportunity for developing solar and wind energy with little harm to biodiversity could exist in several regions of the world, with the magnitude of potential impact being particularly dependent on restrictions imposed by local energy demand. The evidence provided here helps guide sustainable development of renewable energy and contributes to the targeting of global efforts in climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits5472Downloads580 Comment 0

2. chinaXiv:201605.00511 [pdf]

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
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

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.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits418Downloads260 Comment 0

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