Solar parks provide refuge for birds, claim Chilean researchers

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From pv magazine LatAm

Researchers at the School of Environmental and Sustainability Engineering of Universidad Mayor in Chile have found that native birds use solar parks as a refuge.

The scientists conducted their research at the 10.8 MW La Colonia solar park in Buin, Chile. The project was built by Chilean developer IM2 Solar Chile and Enel Green Power, the renewable energy unit of Italian energy giant Enel. The research team observed the behavior of several local bird species for six months.

“It was possible to verify that the solar park presents favorable conditions for the development of this type of species,” the academics said. “The panels show positive impacts on the ecosystem, thanks to the shade they produce, the refuge effect they generate for the development of herbaceous species and the productive rest of the soil, the latter evidenced in different scientific studies.”

César Mattar, the lead author of the research paper, said that they developed a management plan to conserve birdlife. This plan took considered the reproductive cycles of the species in the study area and how these cycles varied with the plant's maintenance activities.

“As there is almost no presence of people that interfere with the ecosystem, apparently the panels function as protectors for the nesting of some species,” he said. “Furthermore, there is no entry of machinery or combustion engines that contaminate the soil or environment, and being a closed perimeter, it is constituted as a protected space from other threatening species.”

The study led to a cooperation agreement between IM2 Solar and Universidad Mayor to advance training, R&D, and innovation programs. The agreement includes a proposal to manage birdlife in solar plants.

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