The existence and well-being of human beings and the success of companies are closely connected with the use of nature's "ecosystem services". The quality and stability of ecosystem services depends in turn on biodiversity. The preservation of biodiversity is therefore a central component of environmental protection and sustainable corporate governance.
Biodiversity encompasses the diversity of individual animal and habitats as well as the genetic diversity within individual animal and plant species. Dramatic species extinctions are being observed worldwide. The loss of species, genes and habitats is impoverishing nature and threatening the very basis of human life. The existence and well-being of human beings and the success of companies are closely connected with the use of nature's "ecosystem services". The quality and stability of ecosystem services depends in turn on biodiversity. The preservation of biodiversity is therefore a central component of environmental protection and sustainable corporate governance. EnBW is aware of this importance and is willing to make its contribution. This is underlined by the anchoring of the topic in EnBW's environmental principles.
EnBW's business activities can have both positive and negative effects on biological diversity. Business sectors and activities that have a significant impact are:
- All types of electricity generation
- Transmission and distribution of electricity and gas
- Operation and construction of office buildings and other real estate
Baden-Württemberg’s landscape with its diversity of flora and fauna is beautiful. However, many habitats of the local flora and fauna are endangered. Some amphibian and reptile species are also threatened with extinction and are on the "Red List" of endangered species. Baden-Württemberg is an amphibian and reptile state - home to 19 of the 20 amphibian species found in Germany and 11 of the 13 reptile species found in Germany. For this reason, we have a particularly high responsibility here in the south west to support our native amphibians and reptiles and their habitats.
Further information on the EnBW support programme (only available in German)
EnBW also attaches great importance to the issue of bird protection in the overhead line transmission system. By the end of 2002, we had already completed bird protection measures on over 46,000 masts in our medium-voltage overhead line network, which is around 30,000 km long. Throughout the year and as an ongoing process, the existing bird protection measures are checked, upgraded and retrofitted where necessary. These bird protection measures have also ensured that, after an absence of almost one hundred years, white storks are once again breeding in Baden-Württemberg and the population has increased..
To ensure birds continue to be protected, Netze BW GmbH, the distribution grid operator of EnBW, will be upgrading or installing bird protection measures such as perches, protective covers and cable insulation on the distribution grid, especially during any maintenance work. In addition, bird protection measures will be planned and implemented when upgrading or newly constructing 110 kV overhead transmission line systems. A total of 3,900 bird deterrents have been installed on the distribution grid operated by Netze BW – even outside of migration corridors. Netze BW has been a member of the “Bird portal” since 2020. This joint project run by the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), the nature conservation organization NABU and the four transmission grid operators and three distribution grid operators aims to ensure bird protection at overhead transmission lines. The project is designed to identify high risk areas, prioritize the bird protection activities in these areas and promote the exchange of information between the different parties.
As part of the blooming transformer station project, Netze BW has been utilizing unused areas around transformer stations to promote biodiversity since 2019. The aim is to create natural flower meadows at every transformer station that will become home to a large number of different species that are usually found in the natural environment at the respective sites. A further 10 transformer stations were transformed into “buzzing transformer stations” using regional seeds this year and now provide a rich habitat of more than 3,000 species of butterflies, 500 species of wild bees and thousands of other German insects. These are biodiversity hotspots with up to between 30 and 60 different plant species per 10 square meters, providing food, protection and a place of retreat for native insects. Flower meadows covering a total area of around 84,600 m² have been created at the 39 sites. As a result, Netze BW is actively making a contribution to the proliferation of flower pollinating insects such as wild bees and butterflies.
Find out more here: Sustainability - Buzzing transformer stations - Netze BW GmbH (netze-bw.de)(only available in German)
You can find further environmental activities of our dustribution grid operator Netze BW here:Aktiv für den Umweltschutz - Netze BW GmbH (in German)
Activities for the protection of biodiversity in the transmission grid sector can be found on the website of TransnetBW GmbH (in German), the transmission grid operator of EnBW.
Hydropower reliably generates carbon-free electricity and stabilizes local and regional grids in an increasingly volatile energy mix. At the same time, every human intervention into a body of water disturbs the natural water balance.
Rivers are an important element of our cultural landscape and humans have adapted them over time to meet their needs and thus significantly changed them. Swamps were drained to eradicate malaria, land has been reclaimed, rivers are used as shipping routes throughout the year and to produce electrical energy using hydropower. Hydropower is thus one of the major users of waterways, alongside sport and commercial fishing, tourism and shipping.
By building facilities that allow fish to ascend and descend the rivers at the sites of its hydropower plants, EnBW is making a contribution to reducing the negative effects of hydropower for the existing fish fauna and microorganisms in the waterways. These measures are necessary in order to achieve the targets in the European Water Framework Directive.
EnBW is actively involved in the development of facilities that allow fish to easily ascend rivers. A fish ladder – also called a bypass channel, fish pass or fish steps – can be an artificial waterway next to a hydropower plant or a technical installation. All are designed to help fish and other microorganisms to, e.g., migrate up rivers to their spawning grounds or to search for food upstream of the power plant.
Both technical installations and naturalistic bypass waterways have now been constructed at numerous EnBW hydropower plants. State-of-the-art fish ladders that enable fish to descend the river mostly combined with a rack system with narrow gaps between the bars have been retrofitted at many smaller hydropower plants.
After the successful installation of a fish ladder facility at the weir in Iffezheim/Rhine, fish can now pass the Iffezheim weir to migrate up the river. This is especially important for fish that migrate long distances such as salmon, shad, brown trout and sea lamprey so that they can reach their breeding grounds higher up the river.
Currently, there is still a lack of knowledge on how to implement effective and workable measures to protect populations at hydropower plants on larger rivers. EnBW is actively engaged in the development of new technologies such as the conversion of existing turbines into fish-friendly turbines or designing alternative rack and migration solutions. In the meantime, EnBW is relying on stopgap solutions such as the so-called fish taxi (catch and carry) on the Neckar. Sexually mature eels are repeatedly caught by a commercial fishing company on the Neckar and transported to the Rhine.
Innovative solutions that will allow fish to ascend and descend the river at topographic and technically challenging sites are being developed and implemented in coordination with the responsible authorities. At the dam in Kirschbaumwasen/Murg, a so-called “hydro fish lift” is currently being constructed together with cooperation partners.
A hydro fish lift combined with a vertical slot fish ladder was placed into operation at the low-pressure hydropower plant in Forbach on 24 November 2021. This facility was designed to enable fish to migrate both up and down the river by using the fish lift to pass the dam. In addition, the doping water that enables the fish to detect the fish ladder is also fed through a turbine to generate energy. This makes an additional contribution to climate-friendly energy generation at the low-pressure hydropower plant.
Hydroelectric power plants help keep our rivers clean. The bar racks above the turbines capture large quantities of solid and plastic waste from rivers each year, which are then properly disposed of after being removed by the hydropower plant operator.