EDF Renewables is seeking academic partners to deliver a programme of ecological research to understand the environmental benefits of utility-scale solar farms in the UK.
The research, which will focus on Longfield Solar Farm, a new project proposed by EDF Renewables and Padero Solar on around 380 hectares of arable farmland near Chelmsford in Essex, will initially explore the positive impacts large-scale solar farms can have on biodiversity, soil health and carbon as well as wildlife habitats and farmland management.
Around 50 hectares within the solar farm will be available as an experimental area, whilst maximising solar energy generation.
The research will tie into existing plans and commitments included as part of the proposed solar farm to deliver substantial biodiversity enhancements through habitat restoration and management.
EDF Renewables is seeking expressions of interest until 29th July 2022 from academics to deliver the research on biodiversity, habitats on solar farmland and the influence of solar farmland management on soil characteristics.
It is partnering with Nature Positive on the project “to demonstrate how solar can help the interlinked challenges of reaching net zero and increasing biodiversity”.
Mark Lang from Nature Positive said: “Whilst solar farms have become increasingly important in meeting the national need for renewable energy, the potential benefits they can have in improving biodiversity and providing other ecosystem services have to date been poorly understood.
“It is hoped the research will contribute to the collective understanding of how solar farms can be effectively managed to enhance biodiversity, influencing current best practice in the rapidly growing solar industry.”