The need for energy and the increasing importance of climate change mitigation are leading to a conversion from conventional to renewable energy sources. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power has seen the most significant increase among all renewable energy sources. However, most of these installations are land-based, significantly changing global land use (LU). The real impacts, whether positive or negative, are poorly understood. This study was undertaken to have a better understanding of the impacts of solar parks on the microclimate and vegetation dynamics. First, different solar parks were visited to take measurements of the surface temperature (T-surf), photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), air temperature (T-air), and humidity (RH) to quantify the microclimate and perform a vegetation releve. The measurements were taken at different positions: underneath, in between, and outside solar panels. For vegetation, the data were first converted to diversity indices, which in turn contributed to a multi-indicator land use impact assessment that evaluated effects on vegetation, biodiversity, soil and water. Solar parks had clear effects on microclimate: if the panels were high enough from the ground, they could lower the T-surf by providing shade and enough airflow. Additionally, the multidimensional functional diversity (FD) analysis of the vegetation indicated that there was less light at a higher humidity and lower temperature underneath the panels. Interestingly, the species underneath the panels also preferred a lower pH and a higher nitrogen level. Finally, the land use impact assessment found that the total land use impact for a wheat field was higher than that of the solar park, which suggests that the conversion of conventional intensive agriculture to a solar park would be beneficial.
Effects of Photovoltaic Solar Farms on Microclimate and Vegetation Diversity / Vervloesem, J; Marcheggiani, E; Choudhury, Mam; Muys, B. - In: SUSTAINABILITY. - ISSN 2071-1050. - 14:12(2022), p. 7493. [10.3390/su14127493]