Our team members have been at the forefront of enhancing biodiversity alongside solar parks since the solar industry emerged in the UK.
A considered approach
Over the years, as more projects have been rolled out, so our understanding of what works, where, and why has deepened. Biodiversity is about so much more than planting a few wild flower seeds and adding sheep. It’s about taking a systematic approach that will positively impact the wider farming landscape.
Our aim is to achieve three goals: energy generation, agricultural production and biodiversity enhancement. Early stage thought and planning is crucial in achieving these, which is why we collaborate with industry-recognised partners to survey, plan, design, implement and manage solutions from the outset.
In our experience, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are many factors to consider. Different local authority policies, varying land or soil types, land classifications, farming practices, environmental pressures and operational challenges will all impact on the most suitable solution. However, one of the most important elements is making sure that the proposed solution is actually delivered and managed once the solar park is constructed.
Research has shown that an effective biodiversity enhancement plan has far-reaching benefits for both nature and neighbouring agricultural yields. Solar parks reduce the amount of fertiliser and chemicals needed, whilst increasing the amount of ‘natural’ habitat and varied grasslands. All of this significantly boosts the environment, including soil carbon storage, nutrient cycling, increased invertebrate numbers, a greater variety of pollinators and an overall increase in wildlife.
Taking this a stage further we are also developing solutions for using Agri-PV to combine the production of food and energy. Agri-PV systems enable higher grade land to be used for hand sowing and harvesting crops, such as asparagus. And when used alongside solar arrays, it makes for a much more symbiotic use of land.
We are currently developing a number of projects with our farming partners to better improve their energy yield, crop production and biodiversity. This approach will not only address the need to generate renewable energy, but also the ever-growing demand for secure food production.
At Exagen, we passionately believe that solar and storage projects can become a positive asset within the wider farming system. Our approach to rolling out renewable energy can bring significant benefits for farming yields, biodiversity and climate change mitigation, as well as increasing financial returns for our farming partners.
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