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Clean Power bee flower solar

Published on August 1st, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


How Solar Farms Could Help Save Bees & Butterflies

August 1st, 2013 by  

I like to emphasize the importance of the application of technologies. A technology can be wonderful if you implement it in a sensible manner, or that same technology could be terrible if implemented foolishly.

Solarcentury seems to get that. It intends to turn its solar farms into wildlife sanctuaries in which bumblebees, butterflies, and other insects can thrive. This is especially important due to the dwindling bee population. It has already started converting its solar farms into wildlife sanctuaries. However, it recently decided to accommodate bees and butterflies.

Here’s more from the UK solar company:

Seed recently harvested from Habitat Aid’s community of small specialist UK nurseries and growers is ready to be sown at Solarcentury solar parks around the UK. Habitat Aid will supply high quality British native trees, plants, seeds and nest boxes to solar parks developed by Solarcentury in order to improve biodiversity through habitat restoration or new native planting schemes.

Solar parks, often sited in remote areas, can provide safe havens for butterfliesbumblebees and other insects whose populations have dwindled in recent decades due to intensive agriculture and poor land management practices, resulting in significant habitat loss. For example, an estimated 97% of wildflower meadows in the UK have been lost since the 1940s. Solarcentury will develop a Habitat Management Plan for each solar park to ensure seeds, plants and trees are selected and grown in a way that encourages species biodiversity whilst maximising the efficiency of the panels.

Yesterday, the first seeds were harvested and ready to be sown. Pretty exciting.

“At Solarcentury, we are always looking for ways to positively impact the environment. Working with Habitat Aid presents us with an exciting opportunity to improve biodiversity in solar parks, and it complements our new partnership with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust,” said Frans van den Heuvel, CEO of Solarcentury. “So as well as cutting carbon emissions, solar panels are also ideal for nurturing a diversity of flora and fauna because they can provide a greater range of dry and wet and shaded and sunny areas than fields without panels.”

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • acaughey

    It’s great that the solar fields are being turned over to native plant species and this is a good positive press story. However, my understanding is that rampant use of pesticides is now thought to be the leading cause of the decline in bee populations – – rather than habitat loss.

    Don’t hear me wrong… more natural habitat is certainly a good thing… but it is a bit of a stretch to say that it’ll save the bee population

    • Bob_Wallace


      Check the title.

      • acaughey

        My comments are no more of a stretch than theirs… In addition to saying ‘help’, they further water down the potential benefits by adding ‘could’.

        Sorry for being a curmudgeon but more natural habitat is not going to provide tremendous benefit to the bees if the pesticides on the surrounding properties are the root cause of their decline.

        I allow milkweed to grow on my property because it is the preferred food for the monarch butterfly. Logging in Mexico is destroying their wintering-over areas and that has lead to a profound decrease in their population… in fact, I have yet to see one this summer. Even so, I allow the weeds to grow in the hopes that it’ll help when/if they arrive in our area. I don’t, however, boast (or even claim) that this could help save their population.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We’re more likely to reach our goals through thousands of small steps rather than reaching it in one giant leap.

  • Amity

    I might be saying something dumb here, but wouldn’t all that wildlife block the sunlight from reaching the solar panels?

    • agelbert

      No. Wildflowers are the best friends of bees and the PV panels are well above that. I know of one fellow in California that has cows graze among the solar panels. They seem to enjoy getting under them when the sun is high to get some shade so it works out rather nicely.
      No one seems to have written about this yet but I expect that large solar farms in desert areas will, be reducing the amount of direct sunlight over a thousand acres or so of desert scrub, allow increased greening beneath the solar panels.
      This may have unexpected consequences like increased rainfall (and cloud cover) but overall I think it will nurture a healthier ecosystem.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’m still pushing for rabbits under the panels in places wet enough to sustain grass.

        The rabbits will mow it down. The panels will protect the rabbits from raptors. And the wind farm can have a nice little side line income selling fresh lapin.

        • agelbert

          Sounds good. Considering bees are so important to our species and the planet, I’ll settle for a few thousand more happy pollinators. They can keep their honey. They have earned it.

        • ComradeRutherford

          Mmmm… Solar powered rabbit meat!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Ragoût de lapin slow cooked in a solar oven.

            A bottle of tasty red. A loaf of crusty bread. A salad of tender greens grown in the shade of solar panels.

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