Renewable Energies and Biodiversity

By Alejandro Angulo

It is imperative to combat climate change, and reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Among the strategies is energy efficiency, which not only reduces emissions, but also saves energy. Another strategy is to generate clean, and renewable energy, instead of relying on fossil fuels, diversifying the current energy matrix. However, to implement renewable, and clean energies, several aspects must be considered. First to consider are the comparative advantages in the state, to generate energy: solar radiation, wind, bio-digestion, hydro-energy or other. Other considerations are about the users and direct beneficiaries; location of distributed energy, commercial generation; investment; and location. 

The Bajio region has several favorable conditions:

• Comparative advantage for generation of solar energy. According to the Renewable Energy Geographic Information System (SIGER), the entire Bajío is within an area of excellent solar resources for energy production.

• Existence of a large number of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses that can pay to reduce emissions, and save on the cost of energy.

• Operational ease and processing before the CFE, would bring distribution of energy up to 500 kW.

• And as for location, it is in the same spaces where the micro, small, and medium-sized businesses are located.

The state of Querétaro, for example, ranks 17th at the national level, in terms of distributed solar energy generation. It allows us to see how the state, mainly in the metropolitan area, is using solar panels in homes and businesses. This diminishes the displacement of vegetation in natural ecosystems. The municipality of Querétaro has requested financing to place solar panels in micro, small, and medium-sized businesses within the municipality. On February 24, the Commitment Letter of the Municipality was delivered during the presentation of the Natural Capital Index of the Municipality of Querétaro. It was signed by the Mayor, to meet the objective of 30×30 for protection of biodiversity in the municipal territory. This will make it the first municipality in the entire country, extending said commitment to the representative of CONABIO. It is an unprecedented act of environmental commitment. In said event, it was announced that so far in the current municipal administration, the trajectory of biodiversity decline has been contained, and it has even improved by 54 points. This is all thanks to:

• Active citizen participation in surveillance tasks, and tree planting of the city.

• The introduction of tree planting of native species.

• Self-regulation, and compliance with the law, both public and private, in the management of vegetation in development projects.

• The program of the Institute of Ecology and Climate Change for the Certification of Urban Biodiversity Fragments has led to certification of 400 hectares last year.

• Observance and fulfillment of the regulations such as the Ecological Ordinance of the Territory of the municipality, by which changes in land use are not authorized in Environmental Management Units of Ecological Protection, thereby guaranteeing the protection of natural ecosystems. 

There has been a positive environmental impact on the conservation of ecosystem services, such as the removal of pollutants, capture of CO2, avoiding runoff, the generation of shade for climate micro regulation, habitats for urban fauna, and the production of oxygen. When seen as a whole, these contribute to improving the quality of life of the citizens of the municipality.

A current metric of municipal urban biodiversity counts on an average biodiversity index for the municipality of 3.19; with a removal of pollutants of 11.60 tons/year; and a density of trees per hectare of 45.67. As part of the results, 119 species were registered. Of these, there was a high percentage of Dicotyledons, both in native and exotic species, equivalent to 53.78% for introduced species, and 35.29% for native ones. Most of the trees are Dicotyledons, which have more foliage and, therefore, greater removal of pollutants. The ten main species that predominate in the city are medium-sized trees, and represent 59%, followed by small trees, at 33%, and only 8% of large trees. We are dealing with a dynamic equilibrium, not an unbalanced or chaotic system.

A final conclusion of the Natural Capital Index indicates that in the near future, actions and policies with a metropolitan, or regional approach should be considered. This will lead to a greater impact on natural capital as a whole, because local effort is not enough. The sustainability of natural capital needs connectivity and conservation of ecosystems regionally; the results will be exponential, and we will recover natural capital faster.