Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Ørsted as a 2023 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. Ørsted’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry and Size: Energy; Mid-size
A global clean energy leader, Ørsted develops, constructs, and operates offshore and land-based wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, and bioenergy plants. In the United States, the company has approximately 700 employees and a growing portfolio of clean energy assets and partnerships that includes offshore wind energy, land-based wind energy, solar, storage technologies and e-fuels. A leader across the renewable energy sector in the United States, Ørsted holds the top position in offshore wind energy with approximately 5 gigawatts in development and operates America’s first offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Block Island. Ørsted has a total U.S. land-based capacity of 5 gigawatts across wind, solar, storage technologies and e-fuels.
What is Ørsted’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
At Ørsted, we are utilizing America’s energy expertise and resources to build renewable energy projects in the most responsible, sustainable manner possible that prioritizes the protection of nature and support of local communities. Sustainability is embedded throughout our business – from the development and operation of our project sites to our offices and employment culture.
Our mission is to create a low-emission energy system that generates more than just renewable power. Ørsted’s aspiration is to give back to nature and society more than we take, integrate solutions to our biggest social and environmental challenges into our clean energy projects, and create a lasting positive impact on the environment, biodiversity, and communities in which we work.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Ørsted’s business strategy?
Ørsted prioritizes sustainability through our clean energy projects by investing in land preservation, water conservation and nature enhancing initiatives. The development of cleaner energy is critical to a healthy environment, sustainability and addressing the economic, health and environmental impacts of climate change. But the scale and speed of that development are not our only concerns. Renewable energy projects that contribute positively to wide-ranging and common sustainability goals are not only good for communities and our environment, but also for business. Ørsted’s goal is to be the renewable energy provider of choice for customers, partners, investors, and government entities who share our values and objectives for creating a more sustainable future. We regularly report our progress towards our sustainability goals in our quarterly and annual sustainability reports.
Renewable energy development and protection of natural habitats are mutually supportive endeavors, two sides of the same coin. We’re committed to building our clean energy in a way that integrates land conservation, protects natural areas and ultimately enhances biodiversity. For example, our Mockingbird Solar Center in northeast Texas will power more than 80,000 homes, while also preserving nearly 1,000 acres of native tallgrass prairie in the largest preservation effort on record for this type of habitat. We look forward to building partnerships with Texan by Nature and other organizations that share this vision.
– David Hardy, Group EVP and CEO Americas at Ørsted
What are Ørsted’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
Biodiversity and local ecosystem
Ørsted is currently working toward a long-term goal of creating a net-positive impact on biodiversity at all new projects starting in 2030. This involves working with national and local environmental organizations to identify potential impacts of our clean energy projects and implement conservation and/or habitat restoration strategies to not only offset that impact, but create a positive effect on the long-term health of each ecosystem. In the near term, our team will continue to build out pilot projects at our project sites across the U.S. and apply those shared learnings as we further define and work toward our net-positive biodiversity ambition.
Circular resource use
Building green energy assets at the scale and speed required is dependent on the use of raw materials, some of which are scarce. We are forming partnerships in the U.S. to ensure our renewable energy assets are recycled upon decommissioning to create a more circular value chain to lower our dependency on raw materials and build a resilient, domestic supply chain. While we have agreements in place that ensure 100% recycling coverage for solar panels, we will continue our work to find solutions for turbine blade recycling and define an overall company ambition for the integration of circularity principles.
Who at Ørsted is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
Daniel Willard, PhD, Regional Biodiversity Specialist, leads Ørsted’s onshore biodiversity initiatives across the United States. Daniel works with governments, academia, and NGOs to develop strategies for wildlife and habitat conservation and ecosystem services measurement near our projects in support of Ørsted’s net-positive biodiversity ambition. He has over 15 years of experience working in environmental economics and biodiversity conservation. He holds PhD and MA degrees in Economics from the University of Washington and a BS in Economics from Virginia Commonwealth University. Daniel is based in Austin, Texas and is a Texas Master Naturalist.
Rebecca Perry, Head of Branding, Marketing, and Sustainability at Ørsted, leads a purpose-driven team focused on increasing awareness of the benefits of clean energy and demonstrating the unique strengths of the Ørsted brand as a green energy major, committed to delivering real benefits to communities in the U.S. and worldwide.
Amy Jones, Employee Engagement Specialist, and Suzanne Mitchell, Development Coordinator, led the creation of an affinity group in our Austin, TX office called Sustainable Office Solutions to encourage employees to participate more in the sustainability efforts locally. The mission is “To inspire employees to commit to reducing office consumption, support each other on reaching a goal of less waste and emissions. We strive to partner with local businesses and organizations to bring awareness of Ørsted’s dedication to environmental sustainability.”
Sustainable Office Solutions include:
Examples of Volunteer Works include:
PLJV supports renewable energy and is committed to working with renewable energy companies to help mitigate climate change impacts to bird habitat, while working together to conserve natural resources for the benefit of both people and wildlife. It is rewarding to partner with Ørsted to support cleaner energy while increasing biological function on playas. We appreciate not only Ørsted’s financial commitment to restoring these critical wetlands, but also the shared understanding of the importance of maintaining biodiversity.
–Mike Carter, Playa Lakes Joint Venture Coordinator
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does your Ørsted lead and participate in?
Texas Conservation and Restoration Projects
Together with The Nature Conservancy, we are conserving pristine native tallgrass blackland prairie adjacent to our Mockingbird Solar Center. Additionally, we are working with TNC to restore any disturbed prairie habitat underneath the solar panels, including areas currently in degraded and non-native pasture, using native seeds collected from the protected prairie site. Our efforts ultimately will leave the restored prairie footprint larger than when we found it.
Conservation of ~950 acres of intact native prairie at Smiley Woodfin Native Grassland Prairie, protection of 300+ species of native Texas plants, and restoration of up to 1,000 acres of degraded pasture at the solar farm.
Working with Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Ørsted invested $100,000 to restore playas across West Texas. These wetlands are a main source of water in arid landscapes, providing important habitat for birds and other wildlife. Ørsted’s contribution will restore habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife while supporting community water management.
Restoration of 500 acres of playa lakes to support habitat for up to 80% of the mid-continent Sandhill Crane population and up to 50% of the Northern Pintail population, which overwinter in this region of Texas. Healthy Texas playa lakes provide habitat for 185 bird species, 450 plant species, 13 amphibian species, and 37 mammal species.
We have donated $55,000 to The Nature Conservancy to restore coastal prairie landscape near Ørsted’s Old 300 Solar project in Fort Bend County. In addition to coastal prairie restoration, the initiative will support research on prairie restoration practices and provide a native seed source for restoring additional coastal prairie along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Restoration of 40 acres of previously degraded coastal prairie.
Ørsted is working with the Native Prairie Association of Texas (NPAT) to restore a unique remnant of coastal prairie at Lawther-Deer Park Prairie in Houston. Lawther-Deer Park Prairie is an urban native prairie remnant where NPAT hosts outreach and education programs for Houston area schools. The $45,000 donation supports on-the-ground restoration and maintenance of native plant biodiversity on this prairie for three years.
Restoration of 51 acres of high-quality coastal prairie, 300+ species of native plants.
Electric Vehicle Purchases
Ørsted is investing in electric vehicles and charging stations to reduce emissions at project sites. We are in the process of installing 60 Level 2 EV chargers at our projects in Texas and we have purchased 17 new EV vehicles for our projects site employees in Texas.
Since September 2022, we have offset over 3,000 kg of GHG emissions. Moving forward, we anticipate a savings of over 260,000 kg of CO2 per year.
Solar Panel Recycling
Ørsted recently announced our global commitment to recycle or reuse 100% of our solar panels from all our projects. To achieve this goal, we signed a recycling services agreement with SOLARCYCLE, a technology-based recycling company with a facility in Odessa, TX, to recycle our crystalline silicon modules.
In 2023, we will send approximately 1,000 panels from our Permian Solar Center in West Texas to SOLARCYCLE for inspection to reuse as a power source for their state-of-the-art facility.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will Ørsted play in that progress?
To build renewable energy solutions, we need access to land, which means coexistence with nature and those who live and work in these areas, and we need to source materials, some of which are scarce or in high demand.
As we continue developing conservation initiatives in Texas and across the United States, building toward our goal of net-positive biodiversity impact for new renewable energy projects from 2030, we hope to create a model for how conservationists can work with the renewable energy industry on shared goals in the clean energy transition.
Our 100% commitment to reuse or recycle solar panels and turbine blades, a first-of-its-kind commitment, will help drive the growth of the recycling industry for clean energy technologies and help build out a domestic supply chain. This will lead to a lower environmental footprint, create manufacturing jobs, and ensure the availability of critical materials. These sustainability factors, and others, will be critically important as we continue to build out our clean energy resources.
How does Ørsted quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
Ørsted publishes regular ESG performance reports and an annual sustainability report. Our quarterly and annual ESG performance reports publicly disclose a wide array of financial data related to our responsible business practices, including share of green energy generation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity initiatives.
What is the one lesson that Ørsted has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
Setting clear and measurable goals and committing to a scientifically validated measurement approach are important to the success of conservation and sustainability efforts. Ørsted has a robust measurement process to ensure we have concrete, validated benchmarks to measure and make progress against, and we have established a transparent and thorough reporting system to hold ourselves publicly accountable.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for Ørsted?
Ørsted’s land-based portfolio in the U.S. is concentrated in Texas as it is the nation’s leading market for competitive renewable energy. Texas offers an ideal location for Ørsted’s projects, which encompass the full spectrum of renewable technologies, including solar, wind, storage, and green hydrogen, due to the:
Ørsted has eight operational projects across the state, generating over 2.9 GW of electricity – the equivalent to powering over 450,000 homes. Ørsted has three solar projects in Texas currently under construction. Our development team has been in Texas for nearly 10 years.
Learn more about Ørsted’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Prairies preserved surround Mockingbird Solar Farm in Texas, capturing and storing up to 5,000 tons of carbon.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas