Solar parks unexpectedly prove to be very attractive to insects, according to an initial study into the effects of the construction of a large solar park in Groningen.
Alderman Philip Broeksma (GroenLinks) made the news public: numerous flower species thrive in the solar parks, and this attracts insects and birds. The findings are interesting because there has been a sharp decline in insects for years in the Northern Netherlands, due to climate change and habitat loss.
The Groningen solar park ‘Vierverlaten’ has also led to an increase in various insects. This is apparent from an initial ecological study. During the realization of the solar park (2017), the municipality of Groningen and energy cooperative Grunneger Power took specific measures to increase biodiversity and natural values, and this looks to be paying off.
Thanks to the various herbs, shrubs, and sheep that graze there, after two years there are considerably more plant species and insects at the solar park, which also now attracts various birds.
“Solar parks are a new form of landscape design, which we call energy landscapes. They not only contribute to the use of clean, sustainable energy, but also to biodiversity. For example, there are now more bee species and butterflies on Vierverlaten, ”says Philip Broeksma, Alderman for Energy Transition.
The solar panels provide shade, a dry spot, and shelter, which creates various micro environments. Broeksma: “This is important in the development and design of future solar parks.”
Rare bird species
With 7,777 solar panels, the cooperative solar park of Grunneger Power provides nearly 2,300 MWh of energy annually. That is good for more than 800 households. The layout of Vierverlaten with solar panels on uprights – varying in height and not too close to each other – and its management ensure an optimal habitat. Thanks to the many grasshoppers, bees, butterflies, such as the hay beast and the thistle butterfly, this insect paradise is also food for many other animals and plants. As a result, rare bird species such as the kestrel and buzzard and large groups of house sparrows are now also found in the area.
Solar park and landscape
Solar parks that fit well into the landscape and are developed with attention to nature, yield more biodiversity than conventional intensive agriculture, concludes the study. It is important that the sheep that graze the park are not treated with antibiotics and anti-worming agents, because that produces manure that dung flies and beetles do not eat. Although the research has not been carried out exhaustively and scientifically over several years, the first observations are very beneficial for nature and the environment.