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Environmental Sustainability In Photovoltaic Plants

Environmental sustainability in photovoltaic plants

On May 19, Helena Fernández, Sustainability and Climate Change Manager of Isemaren, participated in the webinar “La sostenibilidad ambiental de las plantas fotovoltaicas”, included in the series “Diálogos solares desde casa” organized by UNEF during quarantine due to COVID-19.

The good news we draw from the talk is that the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition, represented by Deputy Director Eugenio Domínguez and the environmental organizations, represented by Rodrigo Irurzun of Ecologistas en Acción, together with the photovoltaic sector represented by  UNEF and Isemaren, agree that the PENIEC renewables target can be reached respecting the Environment.

However, this is no easy task as there are things that the sector has to improve and also has to be aware of:

  • Photovoltaic plants naturalization is There are many options that need to need to be adapted to the conditions of each plant. It is fundamental to control vegetation by mechanical means and respecting cycles so as not to affect biodiversity. From Isemaren we think there is an unfinished topic to discuss in future meetings. Would it be feasible for larger actions to be developed jointly by projects that will coexist in the same area? We believe that this is a good formula to improve the quality of environmental actions, their results and their costs. The sector is already used to this type of evacuation practice.

 

  • Environmental sustainability is not only biodiversity, the environmental performance of the sector in its broadest sense should be our flag. The development of sustainability indicators in plant management is necessary. The use of SCADAs and CMMSs makes us ready to do so. It is necessary to take it one step further and use the data collected to develop environmental indicators, or to introduce in these tools environmental data acquisition. This information will allow us to evaluate the positive impacts of the sector, which are not few, the improvement in environmental performance and set lines of action. Thus we manage to become POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT PLANTS, in which Isemaren faithfully believes. Carbon Footprint estimation can be a great support in this area since it is an internationally recognized indicator, part of official KPIs and that in its measurement allows to obtain other environmental indicators that show our environmental performance.

solar panels

  • The generation of electrical and electronic waste is not an issue that can be deferred at the time when a plant is going to be dismantled. Today we are already generating this type of waste. Reverse engineering, in which at Isemaren we are working hard, extending the life of products and improving the collection and treatment of these wastes in line with the EU’s ‘Circular Electronics Initiative’, are fundamental challenges. Knowing the components of the plant equipment from the moment of its implementation may be the best way to facilitate these actions when the time comes. The measurable materials contained in electrical and electronic equipment are a resource that must not and cannot be lost, and which must be recovered at the last stage of life, when it is converted into waste.

 

  • Environmental Impact Studies need to be improved in quality so that the formalities are shortened and the process is not paralyzed. But it is also necessary to provide additional documentation. The use of the Scope Document is of particular interest here. A facultative document that includes the lines to follow in the Environmental Impact Study.
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