Image credit: NextEnergy Capital, G Parker, 2018
By supporting healthy ecosystems at a local level whilst avoiding climate change-causing emissions from highly polluting coal and gas power stations, large-scale solar PV technology can play a significant role in the UK’s response to both the climate and biodiversity emergencies.
A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that well-designed and well-managed solar can support wildlife habitat and meaningfully contribute to achieving national biodiversity targets. Indeed, solar parks may have several additional advantages in this respect as compared to other agricultural landscapes in that they are secure sites with little disturbance from humans and machinery once construction is complete, require little if any use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers, and typically incorporate ecological features such as drainage ponds and hedgerows which can be designed to optimise their habitat value.
The approach to managing biodiversity will be different for every solar park, and it is recommended that a site-specific plan be devised in each case. This document aims to present a broad range of examples of biodiversity enhancement and management, illustrating best practice through a series of case studies from our members underpinned by research and innovation by a team of dedicated researchers at Lancaster University and the University of York who are driving this work forward.
This report marks the beginning of a new initiative for the STA as we look to the post-subsidy future for solar in the UK. Over the coming months and years, we look forward to working with our members and with Government, local communities, stakeholders and academic experts to deepen cross-industry understanding of the clean energy and biodiversity nexus.
Across the UK, well-designed and well-managed solar parks directly provide a wide range of
Ecosystem Services, including:
Some of the species which benefit from well-managed solar parks:
Large-scale solar PV in comparison to other land uses in the UK:
Other useful documents: