Flower meadows, insects, birds, and mammals can all be affected by a photovoltaic farm. Opponents of RES, and sometimes their supporters, argue that although the energy itself is green, wind or solar farms are not without flaws. The former are supposed to threaten birds (research is not conclusive on this issue), and photovoltaics means taking large areas out of use, covering them up and leading to desertification.
The Swedish energy company has long been committed to climate and environmental issues. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that it has seen in the development of photovoltaics opportunities beyond the production of electricity. The company argues that solar farms can increase biodiversity. It explains this with the example of its own investments. Planning, design and implementation can and should be done in a way that benefits nature.
Are solar farms destroying the local environment?
The first step is to choose the right location for the farm. Vattenfall does not, for example, build in Natura 2000 areas. The company wants to fit its investment into the landscape and takes into account the opinion and guidance of other parties. Although the energy producer itself is looking for space for its installations, it is open to suggestions from local communities – they know their surroundings best and know where a solar farm could work. If the company finds them technically and economically useful, you can move on to step two.
When designing a solar farm to be environmentally friendly, there are many factors to consider. For example, engineers will not be able to completely eliminate the shading that accompanies the panels, but it can be minimized. Therefore, it is important to properly position the installation and choose such plants that will cope best in difficult conditions. It is important to maintain adequate space between the rows, and place the panels at such a height that will allow the flora to develop.
Step three is to develop the right environmental strategy for the farm. Again, cooperation with the local community, ecologists, scientific institutions and NGOs can be very useful, as each location requires a different strategy.
The use of fertilizers or other chemicals is obviously not advisable, and as part of the development of such a project, birdhouses or insect hotels can be placed on the farm. At this point it is worth mentioning that Polenergia, owned by Dominika Kulczyk, breeds bees in its photovoltaic farm. For the time being, the apiary consists of ten beehives and the insects living there have at their disposal a flower meadow of several hectares. If all goes according to plan, the apiary will produce up to 400 kg of honey annually.
Today, it is well known that profits
The example from Poland shows that a solar farm does not have to be a barren desert and the approach of the Swedish corporation encourages to think about such investments much more broadly, beyond the framework adopted years ago, when mainly the economic factor was taken into account. Today, it is well known that profits, even very high ones, will not compensate for the losses related to environmental degradation, climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity our planet is beginning to face.
Vattenfall puts the matter really clearly: a piece of land designated for the farm after 25 years of use (this is how long the panels operate) is to stop being a monoculture and instead become a very lively, biodiverse space. Other examples from the world show that RES can also be an idea to fight drought, as you can read here.