Industry first as project calls for academic partners to deliver programme of ecological research at Longfield Solar Farm
- Academic partners sought to undertake research into the biodiversity benefits of solar farms in a new partnership between EDF Renewables and Nature Positive.
- Focusing on Longfield Solar Farm, it will be the first to look at impacts on biodiversity, soil health and carbon, wildlife habitats and farmland management.
- Potential academic partners are encouraged to register their interest and submit summary proposals by 29 July 2022.
EDF Renewables, working with environmental consultants Nature Positive, is seeking academic partners to deliver a programme of ecological research to understand the environmental benefits of solar farms.
Focusing on Longfield Solar Farm, a new solar farm proposed by EDF Renewables and Padero Solar on approximately 380 hectares of intensive arable farmland near Chelmsford in Essex, the research would be the first to look at the positive impacts large-scale solar farms can have on biodiversity, soil health and carbon, wildlife habitats and farmland management in the UK.
The research programme will tie into the existing plans and commitments included as part of the proposed Longfield Solar Farm to deliver substantial biodiversity enhancements through habitat restoration and management. As well as influencing these plans and monitoring their outcome, approximately 50 hectares within the solar farm will be available as an experimental area, whilst maximising solar energy generation.
Particularly, it is hoped studies at Longfield Solar Farm will further understanding on the potential impacts of solar arrays on wildlife and biodiversity levels in habitats under and adjacent to arrays, as well as soil health and soil carbon storage.
Expressions of interest are being sought until 29 July 2022 from researchers to deliver three work packages looking at the impact of solar farms on biodiversity, habitats on solar farmland and the influence of solar farmland management on soil characteristics. Potential academic partners can register their interest and submit summary proposals by visiting the Nature Positive website.
Ben Fawcett, Head of Solar at EDF Renewables said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Nature Positive on this important project to demonstrate how solar can help the interlinked challenges of reaching net zero and increasing biodiversity. This partnership builds on our mission to make Longfield Solar Farm an exemplar solar scheme, delivering real environmental benefits at the local and national level.”
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.”
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Notes to editors
*1. Load factors based on the five year rolling averages on unchanged configuration basis using Table 6.5 of 'Digest of UK Energy Statistics' - latest figures as per July 2019.
2. Based upon the average domestic electricity consumption per home (temperature corrected) per the Energy Consumption in the UK (published July 2019, Table C9 of ECUK)
3. Based upon the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s “all fossil fuels” emissions statistic of 450 tonnes of carbon dioxide per GWh of electricity supplied in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics (published July 2020).
About EDF Renewables UK
EDF Renewables UK is a joint venture between two companies, EDF Energy (EDF’s UK business) and EDF Renewables Group (EDF’s global renewables business). EDF Renewables Group has more than 25 years’ worth of experience in delivering renewable energy projects in more than 20 countries around the world. EDF Renewables UK has an operating portfolio of 37 wind farms and we are providing some of the much needed new affordable, low carbon electricity to the UK across all technologies. We have an expanding renewables portfolio with almost 4GW of projects in planning and development across wind, battery and solar and we have 600 MW currently under construction. We also have offices in Edinburgh, Rainton Bridge (near Durham), London and Dublin.
About Padero Solar
Padero Solar has helped to develop more than 25 Solar Farms in the UK, and this has delivered over 390MWs of renewable energy. Padero Solar is part of a group of three companies. These include PS Renewables and PSH Operations, an Operations & Maintenance business managing over 1.3GWs of Solar Farm assets in the UK.
About Nature Positive
Nature Positive, an RSK company, is a specialist sustainability consultancy that helps businesses understand their specific link to nature. Nature Positive helps identify and quantify dependence and impacts on nature to enable businesses to work towards a nature-positive future.
About Longfield Solar Farm
Longfield Solar Farm is a proposed new solar farm, located across approximately 380 hectares of intensive arable farmland near Terling, Essex. Brought forward by a joint venture of EDF Renewables and Padero Solar, it will have the potential to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of up to 96,000 households*. The Project is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and in March 2022, the proposals were accepted to examination by the Planning Inspectorate.