Article by: Jane Marsh, Editor-in-Chief of

Renewable energy produces energy in an eco-friendly way, but the placement of its sources impacts biodiversity. This power’s negative and positive impacts on ecosystems call its eco-friendly nature into question.

Energy Types Impacting Climate Change

Renewable energy comes from replenishable resources like wind, waves or sunlight. This electricity is an alternative to the fossil fuels polluting the environment and running out.

As clean energy sources become more common, the impacts on the world become clear. Renewable energy reduces greenhouse gasses and protects the climate, positively impacting biodiversity. Still, although it benefits the environment, it harms the balance of nature.

Why Renewable Energy Is Necessary

Society will need large amounts of energy, so it’s better to have clean, replenishable energy rather than a limited amount of fuel. Besides, the energy demand is high — people spend 43% of their home’s energy cost purely on heating and cooling. Renewable energy diversifies power types and paves the way for a clean transition from fossil fuels. Still, there are drawbacks to renewable energy sources.

Negative Impacts on Biodiversity

Renewable energy production often destroys habitats and hurts wildlife. Even if there are regulations against this, the sites can still cause harm to animals. Solar panels — for example —- take up a lot of space and drive animals out of their habitat.

Energy production affects biodiversity with its construction and placement:

  • Habitat loss: Energy sources take away space from plants and animals.
  • Wildlife destruction: Renewable energy sources stress animals and even kill them. Wind turbines spin with great force and may harm birds or bats.
  • Land Damage: The construction of renewable energy sources damages the land’s natural layout and destroys plants.
  • Displacement: Displaced animals are sent to live elsewhere when renewable energy sources are built on their homes.

Renewable energy is supposed to be environmentally friendly, but it damages local ecosystems and threatens endangered species. For example, take the effect of a solar energy development on Mojave desert tortoises. The tortoises live up to 80 years, but the threat to their habitat puts those lives in danger. The plan meant the tortoises would likely be displaced and struggle to adapt to their new environment.

The destruction of plant life and wildlife is a common side effect of renewable energy. Endangered plants cannot relocate, so the construction of renewable energy sources threatens to destroy them.

For example, a proposed lithium mine threatened a rare wildflower in 2022 called Tiehm’s buckwheat because it would’ve destroyed the flower’s habitat. Although lithium isn’t strictly renewable, it makes rechargeable energy that powers phones, cars and laptops. Even though renewable energy is good, the negative impact on biodiversity outweighs the positive environmental impact of rechargeable energy.

Solutions for Negative Impacts

Placing energy production sites on large spaces of unused land is tempting, but it risks endangering animals. To keep conservation from being an issue, renewable energy production should incorporate into architecture or areas already used by humans. Responsible zoning and construction will limit any negative impact on biodiversity.

Research also suggests engineers can reduce bird deaths simply by changing the color of wind turbine blades. Tracking the current negative impacts of renewable energy sources helps create solutions.

Positive Influences on Biodiversity

Despite the negative impact on wildlife, renewable energy still positively impacts the climate and the air. It fosters a stronger ecosystem because it is clean. The production of this electricity also has no impact on the environment. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy creation doesn’t harm the ecosystem.

Also, some renewable energy sources — like wind turbines — occupy less space and allow for more open land. This land can be used for farming or returned to its original state.

The Effects of Renewable Energy

While the production of renewable energy has no impact on the environment, the sites can be dangerous for animals. To have a truly positive impact on biodiversity, renewable energy needs to work toward conserving and protecting wildlife and native plants. 

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