By Staff Reporter
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology has shed light on a concerning trend – a notable decrease in the activity levels of six bat species in proximity to solar farm locations. Conducted by researchers, this study has implications for shaping planning legislation and policies to ensure the coexistence of solar energy development and wildlife preservation.
As the global demand for sustainable energy escalates, the role of renewable technologies becomes pivotal. Given the detrimental effects of fossil fuels on carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, the need for renewable energy solutions is more crucial than ever.
Lead author Lizy Tinsley from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences emphasized the importance of addressing potential negative impacts on biodiversity due to renewable energies. She noted that mitigation measures are essential for ensuring a balance between energy production and wildlife conservation.
The study involved the installation of bat static monitoring equipment in both a solar farm field and a corresponding field devoid of solar panels (control site). A bat detector was positioned in the middle and at the edge of each field, covering a total of four recording locations across 19 sites.
By analyzing data from echolocation calls at the recording sites, the researchers identified a significant decline in the activity levels of Common Pipistrelle, Noctule, Myotis species, Serotine, Soprano pipistrelle, and Long-eared species at solar farm sites compared to control sites.
Lizy Tinsley stressed the need to subject solar farm developments to Environmental Impact Assessments to evaluate their ecological impacts and implement effective mitigation strategies. Drawing parallels with wind farms, which have utilized techniques to reduce bat mortality, she suggested strategies like planting insect-friendly vegetation and creating corridors to insect-rich habitats.
Co-author Professor Gareth Jones highlighted the novelty of the research, given the limited understanding of solar farms’ impacts on wildlife, particularly bats. He pointed out the potential concerns as solar farms encroach upon habitats suitable for bats, posing challenges like potential collisions with panels.
In conclusion, the study underscores the necessity of comprehensive research and adaptive mitigation measures to ensure the successful coexistence of renewable energy sources and wildlife preservation.