Ørsted is a leading clean energy developer, constructing and operating projects that span renewable energy technologies, including offshore and land-based wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, and e-fuels. Ørsted is the only energy company worldwide with a target for net-zero emissions using a science-based approach validated by the Science-Based Targets Initiative. Ørsted is steadily growing its portfolio of clean energy assets and partnerships with a nature-conscious mindset. Ørsted has recently partnered with Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV), a regional partnership of federal and state wildlife agencies, conservation groups, and private industry to conserve bird habitat throughout the western Great Plains.
Project Description & History
As part of the Texas Playa Conservation Initiative (TxPCI),Ørsted has contributed $100,000 to Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) to restore and conserve 500 acres of playas near Ørsted’s operating wind farms in West Texas, a historically high-density area of playas. Ørsted and PLJV will be working alongside Texas Parks and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited in the TxPCI partnership, which has been successful in restoring nearly 3,000 acres of playas since 2017.
The Texas High Plains have the highest density of playas in North America. Playas are round, shallow wetlands with clay basins that collect and hold water from rainfall and runoff, creating temporary lakes. Playas are essential to ecosystem function in the High Plains of Texas, providing services such as groundwater recharge, clean water, recreation, and even flood control. However, in the past several decades, over 80% of playas have been modified. These alterations to healthy playas can reduce available surface water, limiting wildlife habitat and disrupting local aquifer recharge.
Playas are also a much-needed resource for 30+ species of birds and other wildlife in the arid landscape of West Texas. Playa lakes create biodiversity hotspots in the High Plains as many waterfowl species overwinter, breed, or stop there during migrations, relying on playas for food. Key bird species that rely on playas include the Long-billed curlew, Stilt sandpiper, Northern pintail, Green heron, and Snowy egret.
Playas are vital to the people of West Texas because they play an important role in recharging the Ogallala Aquifer. The Ogallala Aquifer provides drinking water to nearly 2 million people residing in the High Plains area and serves as the primary water source for the area’s industries and agricultural producers. Playas can filter and recharge up to 95% of water collected in the southern portion of the aquifer. The 500 acres of playas to be conserved by Ørsted and PLJV will help keep the Ogallala Aquifer recharged and full during times of drought.