About this document

AuthorDirectorate-General for Environment (European Commission)
10 Guidance on Wind Energy Developments and EU Nature Legislation
Guidance on Wind Energy Developments and EU Nature Legislation
Background to this document
This document provides an update of the 2011 Comm ission guidance on wind energy and Natura 2000, as
planned in the action plan for nature, people and the economy1. An u pdate of the guidance was considered
necessary as EU policy and legislation on renewable energy and wind energy technology (especially at sea )
has developed greatly since the guidance was first issued. In step with these developments, k nowledge on the
impacts of wind energy on biodiversity as well as good practice for addressi ng these impacts has also
expanded significant ly. In view of further drastic expansion of wind energ y in the context of tackling climate
change on the one hand and growing pressures on biodiversity on the other hand, guidance base d on most
recent insights and good practices on reconciling the respective policy goals and targets is essential.
The Renewable Energy Directive2 adopted in 2009 sets a binding target of 20% final energy consumption to
come from renewable sources by 2020. In 2018, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the revised
Renewable Energy Directive3, setting a binding EU-lev el renewable energ y target of at least 32% by 2030,
with a clause to revise this figure upwards by 2023. W ind energy accounts for the highest share of renewable
energy production in the European Union (EU) and is expected to remain so over the coming decades. In
2018, with an installed capacity of 170 GW onshore and 19 GW offshore, wind energy accounted f or 18.4% of
the EU’s total electricity generation capacity4. With renewable power generation p otentially reaching 50% of
total electricity generation in the EU by 2030, wind energy (both onshore and offshore) could account for 2 1%
of total power generation5.
In December 2019, the European Commission presented a communication on the European Green Deal 6. It
resets the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate and environment-related challeng es that is this
generation’s defining task and is an integral part of the Commission’s strategy to implement the United Nations’
2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs). It is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a
fair and prosperous society, with a modern, sustainabl e, resource-efficient and competitive economy where
there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic gro wth is decoupled from
resource use. The Green Deal has already set out a clear vision on how to achieve climate neutrality by 2050
and how to further decarbonise the energy system in order to reach climate objectives in 2030 and 2050. It
highlights the essential role of renewable energy sources, in particular of offs hore wind energy production, in
achieving these objectives.
The European Green Deal attaches also particular importance to biodiversity , which is under increasing
pressure. The European Commission has also recently adopted a c ommunication on the EU Biodiversity
Strategy for 20307 which aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 with benefits for
people, the climate and the planet. This strategy contains commitments and actions to be del ivered by 2030,
including the establishment of a larger EU-wide network of protecte d areas on land and at sea, building upon
existing Natura 2000 areas, with strict protection for ar eas of very high biodiversity and climate value, an EU
Nature Restoration Plan, a set of measures to enable the necessary transform ative change, as well as
measures to tackle the global biodiversity challenge. The report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy
Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on a Global assessm ent of biodiversity and
ecosystem services8 also provides a n alarming picture of the state of biodiversity and th e different pressures
on it.
Climate change is generally acknowledged to be a k ey driver for biodiversity loss. Rising global temperatures
cause ecosystem degradation on land and in the s ea, with the consequent loss of biodiversity. Wind energy
helps conserve biodiversity by saving greenhouse g as emissions, returning significantly more energy back to
society than it consumes over its lifecycle. It consumes no water for power generation and does not cause a ir,
1 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/legislation/fitness_check/action_plan/communication_en.pdf
2 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32009L0028
3 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2018.328.01.0082.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2018:328:TOC
4 Wind energy in Europe in 2018. Trends and statistics’ (WindEurope, 2019)
5 Renewable Energy Prospects for the European Union, International Renewable Energy Agency, 2018
6 https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/european-green-deal-communication_en.pdf
7 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1590574123338&uri=CELEX:52020DC0380
8 https://www.ipbes.net/global-assessment-report-biodiversity-ecosystem-services

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