Biodiversity 2 min. reading time

5-year study on effect of solar farm on local ecology

Knowledge base 5-year study on effect of solar farm on local ecology

Together with the University of Groningen and the Province of Groningen, Novar is facilitating a 5-year study of the effects of various solar farm designs on various plants, birds, mammals, insects and soils in the Province of Groningen. To this end, 15 of our solar parks will be monitored and the research results will be published publicly. In this way, every developer of solar parks can benefit from the knowledge gained.

The PhD research focuses on the main knowledge gaps as identified in the "Literature study on opportunities for ecological design of solar parks" (RUG & WUR, 2018). The doctoral research includes four components.

(a) What are ecological values of solar parks, and what factors drive this? 

For two years, a broad scan will be made of existing solar parks (starting with 10 parks in Groningen, aiming for a total of 15-20 parks in the northern Netherlands). Soil, vegetation, insects, mammals and birds will be monitored. This is related to management and design of the park (method of grazing, whether or not sown with flower mixtures, distance between rows of panels), as well as soil, location, surroundings and age of the solar park.

(b) To what extent does the construction of an (ecologically designed) solar park contribute to biodiversity and put a plus on farmland bird habitat? 

About 5 solar parks + reference areas will be monitored over time (3-4 years), including a 0 measurement prior to construction of the parks. Effects on soil, vegetation, insects, mammals and birds will be examined.

(c) Experiments in management and design. 

Specific aspects of design (distances between panels, landscaping of edges) and management (grazing, sowing with flower mixtures) are tested by means of an experimental set-up (as, for example, at Roodehaan solar park). Difference with parts (a) and (b) is that experiments are realized within solar parks, which gives us a better picture of the effect of a measure because we are not 'bothered' by variations in soil, location, etc. between solar parks. Effects on insects and birds are being looked at. Ultimate goal is to fine-tune measures for ecological design. Experiments that require physical adjustments to, for example, the arrangement of solar panels should already be agreed upon during the planning phase. Less drastic experiments with, for example, management (vegetation, management) can even be realized at already existing solar parks.

(d) Solar farms as habitat for farmland birds. 

The use of space by birds that breed in/near solar parks will be mapped, and related to design and management. The aim is to arrive at measures for ecological design that will benefit species for which we want to improve habitat. Here we focus specifically on Groningen target species such as Bluethroat, Yellowhammer, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Marsh and Grey Harrier, Spoonbill, Partridge, Ringed Sparrow and Skylark (Nature Vision Province of Groningen - Supplement to Nature Policy Document 2013-2021 under the Nature Conservation Act 2017). The added value compared to general monitoring (parts a and b) is that in this part we obtain a much better picture of when and if so how many species use solar parks in relation to set-up and management.

Want to know more?

This is an article from Ecology and biodiversity at a solar farm. Want to know more? Also read: Ecological 0 measurement solar farm

Share article
Biodiversity 2 min. reading time
Ecology and biodiversity at a solar farm

In the development of solar parks, double functions of space are often sought. This makes sense, as solar farms generally take...

Biodiversity 2 min. reading time
Ecological 0 measurement solar farm

To preserve and encourage biodiversity on and around our solar farms as much as possible, our solar farms are always placed on...

To knowledge base