Research Study: The Effects of Solar Farms on Local Biodiversity: A Comparative Study

Photo: G Parker Westmill 2013

Clarkson & Woods and Wychwood Biodiversity have carried out research on the effects that solar arrays have on local biodiversity. The project was joint funded by Clarkson & Woods, Wychwood Biodiversity, Orta Solar, Solar Trade Association, Primrose Solar, British Solar Renewables, Good Energy and Belectric.

The study aims to investigate whether solar farms can lead to greater ecological diversity when compared with equivalent undeveloped sites. The research focussed on four key indicators; botany (both grasses and broadleaved plants), invertebrates (specifically butterflies and bumblebees), birds (including notable species and ground nesting birds) and bats, assessing both species diversity and abundance in each case. A total of 11 solar farms were identified across the southern UK for inclusion in this study. Approaches to land management varied from primarily livestock grazing through to primarily wildlife-focused management.

The study is the first large scale, comprehensive research of its kind in the UK and aimed to collect sufficient data to make statistically robust conclusions. Despite the growing emphasis on ecological enhancements within solar farms, very little research has been undertaken on the effects of solar farms on wildlife in the UK and the effectiveness of these enhancements.

The study revealed some very interesting results and the full report can be downloaded here

We're very proud to have been involved with such a successful project.