Ecotricity explains: Biodiversity in our sun parks
We all understand that green energy is the key to fighting the climate crisis. But did you know that building new sources of renewable energy can also help nature and boost biodiversity near you?
Right now, we have two new solar parks under construction. They’re being built with the latest solar panel technology next to our existing wind parks at Dalby, Leicestershire and Galsworthy in Devon.
When we build our windmills, we work with the RSPB to make sure the effect we have on local wildlife and surrounding habitats is as small as possible.
Our new sun parks give us an opportunity to do something even more exciting, to rewild parts of the sites and give biodiversity in the local areas a huge boost.
Surveying the site
Whenever we build a sun park, there’s an existing habitat – even if it’s just a ploughed field – that we need to check over thoroughly for rare and protected species, as well as finding out which creatures and plants call it home.
Watch Ecotricity’s Principle Ecologist, Simon Pickering, explain how he checks for badger activity as he tours the Dalby sun park site.
Once our surveys are complete, we move on to the next stages of building the sun park using all the information we’ve gathered to make it as peaceful as possible for the nature that’s already there.
How we’re boosting biodiversity
We’re not content with minimising the impact of our sun parks. We want to make them a positive force for nature.
We expect our solar parks to have a lifetime of at least 25 years, so during that time we’ll set the boundaries to species rich grassland, giving once common wildflowers a much needed helping hand.
Declining farmland birds, hares, bumble bees and meadow butterflies are just some of the wildlife we expect to flourish in our sun parks over the coming decades.
How our sun parks work
It may be hard to believe sometimes but Britain gets plenty of sunlight, more than enough for clean solar energy to make a big contribution to the national grid.
In fact, the sun doesn’t even need to be shining – all it takes is daylight and a field of solar panels, quietly producing electricity.
We use the latest technology to harvest the maximum electricity from the smallest space, including bifacial panels which make electricity from the underside from light reflected off the ground, as well as the top face.
Together, the Dalby and Galsworthy solar parks will generate enough electricity to power over 5,000 homes. And of course, we have more solar parks in the planning stages.
We help biodiversity wherever we can
It’s not just our sun parks that are giving Britain’s wildlife a boost. Our wind parks, green gas mills and green mobile phone service, Ecotalk + RSPB, are all helping nature to bounce back.
In July 2019, Ecotalk + RPSB helped the RSPB buy Fairburn Tips, an old dumping ground for coal mining waste. Two years on, it’s been restored to create grassland, woodland and lakes, and is part of the RSPB Fairburn Ings reserve in West Yorkshire.
Biodiversity at Fairburn Tips is making a rapid comeback. On some of the tips, lowland heath habitat is taking off – it’s a wonderful environment for bees and butterflies, including Essex Skippers and Common Blues.
Ants are building raised anthills, as they don’t like to bury down into the slag heaps, and green woodpeckers eat the ants and use them to rub on their feathers as a natural fungicide.
Giving land back to nature really does work.
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Sun parks shine on
Since we were founded in 1995, we’ve built 74 beautiful windmills and one solar park, across Britain. We’re immensely proud of our windmills, and we’ve got big plans for new sun parks as well.