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What does an energy transition that restores nature look like? 

An energy system that restores nature is one where a thriving renewables industry enhances biodiversity, ecosystem health and connectivity.

Working collaboratively with ecologists, First Nations groups, landholders, Landcare networks and the environment movement, renewable energy infrastructure is developed using three principles:  

1. Building renewable infrastructure on already degraded land. 

2. Embedding ecological restoration into project development. 

3. Establishing whole-of-life, closed loop product management systems. 

These principles recognise that biodiversity loss and climate change mutually reinforce each other, and that neither will be successfully resolved unless both are tackled together. 

Tackling climate change means a win for nature, because climate change is a massive threat to habitats and species. 

Restoring nature means improved climate resilience, because nature stores carbon and cleans our air and water. 

We can have the best of both by making sure that strong planning and nature laws support renewable energy projects that restore nature. 

         (Credit: Lucy Graham)


Case Studies

Case Study 1 - Integrated Vegetation Management

Integrated Vegetation Management is an ecological restoration technique being used across the USA and EU that reimagines transmission lines as wild animal corridors and spaces of enhanced biodiversity.  

Transmission lines are built through land that has been degraded and cleared, and the land underneath the lines is regenerated to support threatened and endangered species, provide key habitat and food and water resources for wildlife to allow wild animals to freely move without crossing roads or encountering other dangers.  

(Credit: Life Elia-RTE project)

Case Study 2  - How solar farms can improve biodiversity 

A five-year study in the US found that planting native grasses and flowers under solar panels built on degraded agricultural land can lead to a dramatic increase in insect populations - up to 20 times in the case of native bee populations.   

Read: Solar farms and native grasses create pollinator havens and boost biodiversity, study finds | RenewEconomy 

Learn more about what this can look like in Australia here. 

Case Study 3 – Offshore wind farms as habitat for marine life 

Researchers at ReCoral are exploring natural coral growth on the foundations of offshore wind turbines 

While much more research is needed, there is already evidence that offshore windfarms could offer new habitats for lobsters.

Read next: What needs to change to ensure a nature positive energy transition