Environmental strategy during operations phase
EDPR is strongly committed to contribute to the protection of the environment and biodiversity through a proactive environmental management of its wind farms in operation, as is stated in our Environmental and Biodiversity policies (detailed information available at www.edpr.com).
Our environmental strategy focuses on three core aspects: legal compliance, management of environmental risks and continuous improvement. Numerous environmental appraisal and monitoring procedures are incorporated in all phases of business processes ensuring that these central pillars are enforced. In 2012, 8.25 million euros were invested and expended in environmental related activities.
All this is sustained by a qualified team aligned with the environmental strategy of the company. Both, our environment specialists and the network of external partners working with us, stand out for their extensive professional experience and knowledge of the environmental field.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The operation stage of wind farms, with a useful life of 25 years, stands as the core of our business. According to this, we are really conscious of the importance of proper management of environmental matters in our facilities in operation, which is assured through the Environmental Management System (EMS).
EDPR´s primary objective in implementing EMS is to improve its overall business. The system ensures compliance with legal requirements and focus on relevant environmental aspects, while setting environmental objectives and targets to improve our environmental performance at country and platform levels.
In the US, EDPR is currently undertaking an effort to unify its policies and procedures into a single EMS for all operations in this country. We intend to create a holistic view of its impacts and current procedures, to ensure that the roles and responsibilities for the avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of environmental impacts are clearly defined and connected.
Our internal procedures guarantee that environmental aspects like consumptions, waste, noise, or even environmental emergencies, are under control.
Generation of waste is one of the main environmental impacts of wind farms in operation. Thus, in order to improve our operating co-efficiency, we have worked to analyze the types of waste generation in our operations and the treatment method given by the uthorized waste haulers.
The following table summarizes the amount of waste generated per GWh in our wind farms in operation.
Although the total amount of waste generated onsite has increased year over year, we consider it to be consequence of a series of aspects not comparable with the same period of previous years.
Hazardous waste is highly correlated with the periodic maintenance cycles of the EDPR’s installed capacity. As capacity grows, the amount of oil-related wastes generated during its maintenance milestones (84% of total hazardous waste) will continue to increase simply as a function of scale.
Non-hazardous waste increases mainly due to an increase in metals and septic tank sludge waste, as a result of turbine replacements and the drainage of many septic tanks installed in 2010 and that can storage more than 1-year waste. However, during 2012 we have improved waste treatment. We worked with our waste haulers to prioritize waste recovery. Thus we increased the ratio of waste recovered from 62% in 2011 to 81% in 2012. In 2013, waste management will also be strengthened through specific training sessions.
Even though the main impact of our wind farms is waste, we also monitor other consumptions in our wind farms. Our turbines require a small amount of electricity to operate. This energy consumption is generally satisfied by the wind farm’s own generation, but in specific cases it is necessary to use energy from the grid, to power turbines. In order to have a comprehensive view of our indirect impacts, we monitor and calculate our indirect emissions from wind farms electricity consumption.
EDPR has implemented processes to cope with environmental emergencies and also procedures to identify near-miss situations.
The early identification of these situations is crucial to prevent future incidents that might have an environmental impact.
In 2012 we had 1 significant spill with a total volume of 0.27 m3 equivalent to 1.3 barrels. Although these environmental emergencies are not common due to the nature of our facilities and the business itself, we have performed environmental drills in all countries in Europe to guarantee that our personnel has received the appropriate training to adequately overcome potential accidents such as spillages of hazardous substances.
RESPECTING THE ECOSYSTEM
Biodiversity loss is expected to continue throughout this century, with the number of species facing extinction growing day by day. EDPR is committed to promote biodiversity conservation and aspires to have an active role in contributing to the world’s objective of reducing biodiversity loss. To do so, we take biodiversity into consideration in all our business activities, seeking an overall positive balance. We define specific measures to monitor and promote the local fauna conservation. In the small number of sites located inside or close to protected areas, we intensify our efforts with specific monitoring procedures, as defined in our Environmental Management System. (A full disclosure on EDPR wind farms inside or close to protected areas is available at www.edpr.com)
BIODIVERSITY INTEGRATION IN PROJECTS
Additionally, an ambitious program of reinforcement of prey species was promoted to improve the eagle’s food supply close to its breeding area. This was achieved through the habitat improvement of eagle’s prey species, mainly rabbits.
Improving the availability of food lowers energy expenditure in foraging and therefore, increases the possibilities of reproduction. This significantly increases the chances of the species conservation.
In an effort to seek a positive balance in biodiversity, numerous projects were performed during 2012. Through these activities, we focus on mitigating of the potential impacts on biodiversity identified. To do so, we usually partner with well know institutions in this field, as well as regional associations that provide us with a strong knowledge of the local fauna. (For more information about some projects performed along 2012, please visit www.edpr.com)
CARBON FOOTPRINT FROM ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITIES
Our work requires us to travel, consume resources in our offices, and dispose or recycle the waste generated. Our indirect emissions represent just a 0.2%, when compared to the total amount of emissions avoided and approximately 75% of them are wind farms electricity consumption, necessary to feed our wind farms that produce green electricity.
At EDPR, we believe that it is important to promote a culture of rational use of resources. Even though only 25% of our emissions are caused by administrative activities and its impact is more than offset by our generation activity, we believe that it is part of our culture to try to minimize this impact. As a result, during 2012, we launched an eco-efficiency campaign called “because we care” that focuses on fostering environmental best practices in our offices.
SUSTAINABILITY-POWERED SOCIAL ROOM
With the main goal of promoting sustainable practices, employees can furnish the social room by adding items purchased at the sustainability marketplace. These items can be purchased using credits that are awarded to those department teams that adopt sustainable practices.