RSPB press release

Solar deal powers up RSPB nature reserves

The RSPB, the country’s largest nature conservation charity, has used a new finance deal with Triodos Bank to help install renewable energy projects across its nature reserves.

A loan of £710,000 has supported the installation of over 700 solar panels at seven nature reserves, including Minsmere, The Lodge and Bempton Cliffs. It is expected that these will provide up to 80% of the sites’ annual energy requirements (around 10% of the energy RSPB uses in total each year), saving the RSPB a significant sum on its energy bill, as well as providing income from selling energy back to the grid. Any additional electricity is purchased on a green tariff.

The RSPB has also used the finance to install a new biomass boiler at Dearne Valley and deploy energy-efficient LED lighting across 10 office locations.

The new measures are part of the RSPB’s ongoing sustainability programme, with the organisation aiming to generate at least 50% of the energy that it uses from sources on its own estate by 2020, with ambitions to become carbon-neutral in the future. It has already taken steps in lowering its own environmental impact – with wind turbines at two reserves and its headquarters, which also boasts a 95% recycling rate.

The deal with Triodos Bank, Europe’s leading sustainable bank, enables the RSPB to focus its charitable donations from the public into live conservation projects, while the repayments of the renewable energy projects are paid for by ongoing energy bill savings, plus payments from electricity generation over a 20-year period.

Ruth Davis, Deputy Director – Global Conservation at the RSPB, said, ‘We are all becoming more aware of the growing threat climate disruption poses for people and nature. As an environmental body, we have adopted targets to drive reductions in our carbon footprint, including through energy efficiency and generating energy at our nature reserves. I am delighted that we have been able to achieve this through our developing Conservation Investment Programme, with the support of Triodos and Environmental Finance.‘.

Triodos Bank lends solely to organisations delivering social, environmental or cultural impact. It has financed hundreds of renewable energy projects in Europe, and in the UK, financed a further 15 projects in 2018 to support businesses and communities in building wind turbines, solar farms, ground source heat pumps and hydropower schemes.

Phillip Bate, senior relationship manager at Triodos Bank UK, commented, ‘We are really proud that RSPB has chosen us to be its partner to finance this project. Our values and mission as a bank align well with its work protecting and restoring habitats, while helping the UK’s bird species to thrive.

Efforts from all organisations to reduce their carbon footprints should be encouraged and we are pleased to help the RSPB take steps in reducing its own environmental impacts.‘.  

The solar panel installations have been carefully located to avoid impacts on nature. As part of the planning process assessments have been carried out to ensure there are no impacts on specially protected species. Some panels are roof mounted on reserve buildings, others on car park canopies. The panels at Minsmere are ground mounted on a bank beside the car park; the shelter they provide is likely to attract the rare antlion to dig small pits in the ground under the panels to trap prey. It has the potential to create one of the largest colonies in England.

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8 Replies to “RSPB press release”

  1. The RSPB are merely jumping on the "green energy" subsidy fueled bandwagon. Due to the level of subsidies given to solar power projects they will most likely be quids in, but will be doing nothing to help save nature. Every square meter that is covered by a solar panel is a square meter that is unavailable to nature. Even if solar panels are put in locations that "minimise the impact on nature" they still have an impact. For example what is better for nature, a solar panel or the equivalent area of native wild flowers?
    What are the RSPB going to do at 4 p.m. in January when their solar panels are generating 0 power? Are they all going to go home early and wait for some decent sunlight, i.e. in May before returning to work?
    Organisations whose charitable remit is to help nature should do that and ignore what as been, correctly, described as the "green blob" who think that climate change is the only issue facing humanity/ the world.

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    1. Matthew - that's a poor comment I'm afraid.

      1. 'merely jumping on the green energy bandwagon' - are you suggesting that the RSPB doesn't believe that climate change is an important factor affecting wildlife now and into the future? RSPB statements and actions seem to contradict your view. You have criticised their motives - unfairly in my opinion.
      2. 'doing nothing to help nature' - now you seem to be suggesting that you think that climate change has no impact on wildlife - that appears to be a view that is difficult to support with science, or maybe you are suggesting that renewable energy sources don't help, which again seems a view that is contradicted by a lot of science.
      3. RSPB will be 'quids in' - is this a bad thing?
      4. 'every square meter (metre actually) covered by a solar panel is lost to nature - the press release actually gives some information that suggests that is not true. The wildlife loss from putting solar panels on roofs and car park canopies has got to be very small too. Your comparison with an area of native wild flowers is therefore a straw man. Did you read the bit about ant-lions?
      5. are the RSPB going to pack up when power generation is low? - I don't imagine they will. It is wrong to criticise a measure that does good for not doing all the good in the world.
      6. I think it is only necessary for the RSPB to believe that climate change is an important issue for wildlife, which I am sure that they do, and not that climate change is the only issue facing humanity, for this to be a worthy thing to do, if done well.

      Thank you for your comment which I enjoyed very much.

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      1. Excellent riposte, Mark. I would just add a comment on "subsidies to solar power projects". There is a misconception (I'm being generous) amongst those who oppose renewable energy that the sector is propped up by subsidy where other sources are not. In January this year newspaper commented on an EU Commission report thus "The UK leads the European Union in giving subsidies to fossil fuels, according to a report from the European commission. It found €12bn (£10.5bn) a year in support for fossil fuels in the UK, significantly more than the €8.3bn spent on renewable energy." The full report is at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=COM:2019:1:FIN&from=EN

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        1. Andy - thanks. And of course we tend to use 'subsidy' as a dirty word whereas sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. In this case subsidies for green energy could be called 'market correcting payments' as dirty energy may be 'cheap' to produce (and is as you rightly say subsidised itself) but imposes bloody great big costs on people and wildlife outside of the market economy (externalities). So 'cheap' dirty energy costs us extra because of the impacts of cliamte change, so it is a good idea to avoid those costs by making 'market correcting payments' for green energy that largely is free of those costs.

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  2. Solar panels are a sensible approach, and the comments here take no account of whether the panels are on buildings - if that is the case, then no land has been used which could be used for pollinators or whatever...... or carpark covers with solar generation built in, or any other built-environemnt solar panel scheme.. the comments assume all are on the ground. Even if that is the case, theer are excellent example of low-grazed, flower-rich grassland being established on that land around the panels... this is often th ecase in an arable setting, or where panels are on other low-wildlife value land.

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  3. A great move by the RSPB, well done to all.
    Also Mark, great to read your tweet that there will be no killing of whales in Iceland this summer. This news must be very much due to your lobbying of the Iceland Pime Minster and others. Great effort.

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