21 June 2022

New framework agreement for renewable energy on land paves the way for green synergies

Denmark's green electricity production needs to quadruple by 2030. This requires new wind and solar parks, which according to a new framework agreement between the Danish Society for Nature Conservation and Better Energy should be built in conjunction with nature and groundwater protection.

Obviously, new wind and solar parks’ primary function is to produce large amounts of green electricity. But the parks must also raise the quality of nature and open the landscape to neighbours. Such is the call from the Danish Society for Nature Conservation and Better Energy, and in a new agreement they have set guidelines for how renewable energy production on land should include environmental considerations and ensure early involvement of neighbours.

“The development of renewable energy production should and can consider that nature is in crisis. Fortunately, we have several examples of how climate and environmental considerations can go hand in hand. We would like to expand this experience to all municipalities. That is why we have made this agreement in principle, to hopefully inspire greater integration in the local planning,” explains Maria Reumert Gjerding, president of the Danish Society for Nature Conservation.

Better Energy, which set up more than half of new green electricity capacity in 2021, has already established several solar parks, where biodiversity and environmental considerations play a central role.

“The more land we manage, the greater positive impact we can have. When we build solar parks, we do so in close collaboration with local communities and in respect for the existing nature, and we consider both groundwater interests and biodiversity initiatives from the start. It is our clear ambition to use wind and solar parks as stepping stones to a greater extent, for a better and greater environmental effort. Therefore, it is my hope that the energy industry, municipalities, and local organisations will welcome this new agreement in principle,” says Rasmus Lildholdt Kjær, CEO of Better Energy.

Future solar park in Kolding and Vejle Municipalities shows the way

Earlier this year, Better Energy applied for permission to build a solar park in Viuf in Kolding and Vejle Municipalities. The solar park’s total project area is 347 hectares, but only 218 hectares will be used for solar cells. The remaining 129 hectares will be used for new nature areas, re-establishment of wetlands, recirculation of bodies of water and afforestation. The project also focuses on recreational experiences as a new public footpath system will be established with facilities that support the local outdoor life. The solar park thus increases both biodiversity and opens up the landscape to the local area, so that neighbours have access to nature areas that were previously closed to the public.

The entire project area is also a zone with special drinking water interests. Establishment of the solar park is expected to have a positive effect on groundwater and the aquatic environment in general, as the entire area will be free of manure and fertilisation, which will result in a reduction in the leaching of nutrients and pesticides to the groundwater.

“The project in Viuf clearly shows that, not only is it possible to increase biodiversity and protect groundwater when new green electricity production is built. It is also possible to open the landscape so that more people can enjoy our Danish nature,” says Maria Reumert Gjerding and points out that the agreement in principle should serve as inspiration for what requirements the municipalities and local communities should have for new green electricity production.

Main elements of the framework agreement

In an even greater degree than today, the Danish Society for Nature Conservation and Better Energy want solar and wind farms to

  • be used as a lever to increase biodiversity in the Danish landscape by acting as stepping stones and pockets for flora and fauna,
  • contribute to and enable the withdrawal of lowland soils,
  • be used to protect the Danish groundwater.

The principles are divided into the following phases for the establishment of green electricity production:

  • Screening phase: Respect for valuable nature in connection with the location of renewable energy facilities
  • Development phase: Development of natural elements in and near renewable energy facilities
  • Operating phase: Nature-friendly operation in renewable energy facilities
  • After operation: Nature restoration after completion of RE operation

Read the framework agreement here (in Danish).