If thousands of bees are installed in solar parks across the country, the value of UK agriculture will increase by millions of pounds a year, according to a new study from the University of Lancaster. However, scientists warn that the benefits of solar park management for wild pollinators over bees should be prioritized where appropriate and evaluated on a site-by-site basis.
A team of researchers from the University of Lancaster and the University of Reading for the first time calculated the economic benefits and potential costs of setting up a hive on solar farms across the UK. As their contribution to electricity generation increases, solar farms play an increasingly important role in our national zero carbon conversion.
However, as solar parks occupy more land and more parks are created to meet the need for clean energy, it remains to be seen how they will be used to create other environmental or commercial benefits. The research team used detailed topographic maps prepared by the Center for Environment and Hydrology to understand where solar parks are located, and information on crop distribution and rotation, bees, crop pollination requirements, and harvest values.
They also took into account the cost of installing and maintaining honeycombs in solar parks. Using crop distribution methods in 2017, researchers found that stopping bees in solar parks could have increased the value of that year’s crop by 5.9 million.
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