A research paper by UK-based Solar Trade Association (STA) has revealed that solarfarms can improve biodiversity and benefit wildlife, surrounding plants and crops.
When combined with a suitable land-management plan, solarfarms have a positive impact on nature, including grasses, broad-leaved plants, bumblebees, butterflies and birds.
The report also confirms advice given in BRE’s National Solar Centre Biodiversity Guidance for Solar Developments, which stated solar photovoltaic (PV) cells can be integrated with several agricultural activities, including grazing. Solar PV cells can also enhance the natural health of the surrounding area.
Entitled ‘Effects of Solar Farms on Local Biodiversity: A Comparative Study’, STA’s paper was conducted by ecological consultants Clarkson and Woods, and Wychwood Biodiversity.
The consultants analysed 11 solarfarms across Wales and England, as well as neighbouring control plots.
STA spokesperson Leonie Greene said: "We’re delighted with the findings of this survey. It confirms when solarfarms are done properly, they are an asset to our countryside and our natural environment."
Each of the 11 farms used various methods of land management, including seeding sites with a various seed mix, conservation of grazing or mowing, reducing the use of herbicides, and marginal wildlife habitat management.
Biodiversity can be improved with a stronger focus on wildlife management. STA CEO Paul Barwell said: "We set-up our new STA operations and maintenance working group to ensure that the industry looks after its assets in the best possible way.
"O&M is a key part of ensuring not just asset optimisation, but ensuring high standards in health and safety, as well as land management."
The report also suggests that the research results are not only helpful for animals, but can also provide improved environments for humans, as well as crops.
Image: Solarfarms can benefit plant and animals. Photo: courtesy of franky242/Freedigitalphotos.