Solar panels study reveals impact on Earth
Researchers have produced the first detailed study of the impact of solar parks on the environment, opening the door to smarter forms of farming and better land management.
Environmental Scientists at Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology monitored a large solar park, near Swindon, for a year.
They found that solar parks altered the local climate, measuring cooling of as much as 5 degrees Centigrade under the panels during the summer but the effects varied depending on the time of year and the time of day.
As climate controls biological processes, such as plant growth rates, this is really important information and can help understand how best to manage solar parks so they have environmental benefits in addition to supplying low carbon energy.
Their paper ‘Solar park microclimate and vegetation management effects on grassland carbon cycling’ is published in the Journal Environmental Research Letters.
Increasing energy demands and the drive towards low carbon energy sources have prompted a rapid increase in ground-mounted solar parks across the world.
This means a significant land use change on a global scale and has prompted urgent calls for a detailed understanding of the impacts of solar parks on the fields beneath them.
Dr Alona Armstrong, of Lancaster University, said the new study raises some key questions for the future.
She said: “Solar parks are appearing in our landscapes but we are uncertain how they will affect the local environment.”
Read full story: Science Daily