17.05.2021

Save bees - build solar parks

Researchers from the U.K. have investigated the effects of solar parks and pollinators such as bees and biodiversity in general. According to them, solar parks can be capable of creating and maintaining suitable habitats. 

The group was comprised of researchers from both Lancaster University and University of Reading. Their findings reveal a number of suggestions for improved pollinator biodiversity in large-scale solar parks. With their provided scientific evidence, a number of legislative measures can be drafted with lawmakers. Their respective findings are related to the specific conditions of the U.K. and northwest Europe, yet research co-author Holly Blaydes says that these theories may be applied to other areas of varying temperature regions if not universally. Nevertheless, species is another variable beside temperature and environment. 

How are solar parks helpful in creating bee habitats?

Pollinators are facing difficulties in finding suitable nesting places. Therefore, their population is declining not only in the U.K. but globally. The researchers’ approach could conserve these populations within solar parks. A favorable habitat for many pollinators is created by the specific positioning of solar panels. Through the shade created by the panels, microclimates develop in which an abundance of flower species may grow, attracting pollinators to this protected space.  

Which factors influence this phenomenon?

They found that species-poor landscapes are ideal places for the restoration of pollinator habitats by installing solar parks. The reason being that solar parks provide refuges for pollinators which can otherwise be scarce. At the same time, landscape heterogeneity and connectivity may be improved. Their findings stem from an analysis of a vast database comprised of pollinator groups, themes, sub-themes, interventions, and their impact on the insects. The relations between these pieces of information were evaluated in congruence with pollinator behavior such as foraging, nesting, breeding, and other factors. Through this database they found that habitats may be created at the same site as large-scale solar parks and that these structures improve biodiversity through considered management.  

What does this mean for the bees?

This way, foraging and reproductive opportunities may be created, which in turn enhance landscape heterogeneity and connectivity as well as allowing for microclimatic variation. 

These findings point to promising guidelines for the preservation of bee populations and the generation of solar energy – both are important methods for combating the effects of climate change. 

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