Energy is generated using a range of different fuels and technologies and comes from either non-renewable or renewable sources.  Each stage of the process will have an environmental impact.

A recent paper to the Joint Committee (JNCC 08 D04 March 2008) set out the non-climate change impacts of energy production, distribution and use on biodiversity. Generally speaking, the significantly adverse impacts of energy production and consumption on biodiversity can be classified into four main groups:  emissions (to air, land or water); land-take; impacts of construction; direct operational impacts (such as bird strike or displacement of species).

A JNCC commissioned report produced in 2008 summarises evidence of the conservation impacts of energy production in the UK.  15 energy technologies were investigated and a more detailed analysis provided for the eight technologies that are likely to have the most significant impacts on the environment over the next 50 years (namely coal, oil, gas, nuclear, wind, tidal stream and range, biomass crops and biofuels).


Energy policy in the EU comprises a complex suite  of directives and measures that address all aspects of energy production, distribution and pricing.  Renewable energy production is guided by the 2008 Renewable Energy and Climate Change Package and implemented by two Directives introduced in 2009: the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Fuel Quality Directive  (FQD).  Mandatory EU target have been set for an overall 20% share for renewable energy by 2020. This target covers three energy areas – electricity, heat and transport fuels. The EU transport fuel target is 10%, of which at least 90% (and probably nearly 100%) will come from biomass.  The UK Renewable Energy Strategy sets the UK 2020 target as 15% renewable energy by 2020. The UK is working on producing a national plan to submit to the Commission by the end of June 2010.


Biomass can be used directly to produce heat and energy or it may be converted to produce a biofuel that is then used to produce energy. 

At a time of escalating demand for liquid biofuels for transport JNCC produced a position statement on Transport Biofuels and Biodiversity.  A major ongoing piece of work is investigating the global impacts of international trade in comodities derived from biodiversity, including biomass sourced for liquid biofuels.

In May 2009 JNCC organised a one day conference to take a thematic view across major multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs).  Biofuels was one of the five themes investigated.  The conference papers are available here.


Wind, tide, and wave power can all be used to generate energy. 

JNCC provides advice on nature conservation to government and industry on renewable energy proposals in the offshore environment.  We also work closely with colleagues in the country agencies to provide appropriate advice across the marine environment.


Non renewable sources of energy are derived from fossil fuels: oil, gas and coal.  JNCC provides advice to government on a number of oil and gas activities that occur throughout all stages of development from exploration to production and through to decommissioning.