The beauty of solar and nature captured in a photo

by Greenvolt - 25 January 2024
SolarPower Europe's 2023 Photo Competition aimed to showcase solar and nature in perfect harmony with beautiful photos from our members. We interviewed the winners of this year's competition, Greenvolt, about the photo and their wider biodiversity efforts at their solar plants.
Can you tell us a bit more about the photo? How and where was it taken and why does it perfectly showcase solar and nature in harmony?

This photograph was captured by one of our colleagues, Natalia Radtke, on a solar PV farm Miasteczko Krajeńskie 2, located in north western Poland. This photograph not only exemplifies the profound connection between solar energy and nature but also serves as a powerful representation of the positive impact that conscious, environmentally friendly initiatives can have on our planet. It tells a story of sustainability that combines clean energy production and biodiversity.


This solar farm holds particular importance for us, as it was the first project where we introduced biodiversity enhancements such as sowing a flower meadow, creating shelters for wild animals, nesting structures for wild pollinators, and planting clusters of shrubs and trees within the farm area. It demonstrates a holistic approach to renewable energy projects. By actively incorporating nature-friendly practices within the solar farm, the project becomes more than just a source of clean energy; it becomes a harmonious ecosystem that supports local flora and fauna.


What makes this initiative particularly noteworthy is the collaborative effort involved in its implementation. The cooperation with naturalists, local farmers, and dedicated colleagues who actively participated in the hands-on work, emphasises the importance of community engagement and shared responsibility. This collective approach not only enhanced the ecological value of the solar PV farm but also raised awareness about the significance of biodiversity preservation and sustainable practices among all stakeholders.


The commitment to introducing biodiversity enhancements is not just a one-time effort but marks a sustained dedication to a green ethos within the Greenvolt Power portfolio. Our unwavering commitment to biodiversity is at the heart of our mission and we are dedicated to implementing the objectives of our Biodiversity Strategy. This project serves as a pioneering example, setting the stage for future environmentally conscious initiatives in upcoming projects. It underscores the idea that, beyond generating clean energy, renewable energy companies can play a crucial role in fostering positive changes within local ecosystems, contributing to the well-being of both the environment and the communities they operate in.


In essence, Natalia Radtke's photograph becomes a symbol of the positive transformation that can occur when clean energy and ecological responsibility come together, showcasing how solar and nature can truly exist in harmony when approached with a holistic and sustainable mindset.

We believe solar is nature's best friends - do you agree? What benefits can solar have for nature?

Yes, solar farms have the potential to become habitats for various species, fostering a more balanced and diverse ecosystem.


It is crucial to recognise that solar projects influence the environment and biodiversity at every stage of their life cycle, and strategic measures can be taken to mitigate these impacts on each level.

Two pivotal phases demand particular attention in terms of biodiversity and environmental impact: the development phase and the operational stage. During the development phase, proactive planning allows us to anticipate and address potential environmental challenges, thereby minimising adverse effects. Strategic decisions, such as site selection and habitat preservation, play a key role in ensuring responsible development.


The operational stage presents another opportunity to positively impact biodiversity. Solar farms, often situated on former farmlands with relatively low biodiversity, can be transformed into habitats for wild animals. Through carefully planned habitat management, these farms can act as biodiversity hotspots, fostering the flourishing of various species. Furthermore, the positive effects can extend beyond the immediate vicinity, creating a spillover effect to nearby areas.


By acknowledging the environmental impact of solar projects and implementing conscientious practices during both development and operation, we can not only mitigate negative consequences but actively contribute to the enhancement of local biodiversity. This approach aligns with our commitment to responsible and sustainable practices in the renewable energy sector, ensuring that solar farms not only generate clean energy but also serve as contributors to the overall health and diversity of our ecosystems.

Can you tell us about how nature and biodiversity are thriving at any of your solar PV plants?

We have recently completed our post-construction monitoring at Miasteczko Krajeńskie 2. The research results clearly confirm that the solar farm can serve as a habitat for numerous animal species.


Allowing the investment area to undergo natural succession and additionally sowing part of it with a mixture of flower meadow seeds has created a favourable habitat for pollinating insects. The positive impact on invertebrate fauna has been evident, enhancing the attractiveness of the solar farm for wild pollinators. It has become an important feeding place for protected species of bumblebees and common bees. Notably, in August, bumblebees were discovered roosting in sunflowers sown in the meadow, which was truly a delightful sight.


Moreover, the infrastructure of the PV farms has been used by various species in interesting ways. On hot summer days, some mammals seek coolness under the panels. Passerine birds like larks and goldfinches were spotted singing, resting, or hunting on the panels, while the red-back shrike uses the fenced area as a pantry by storing spare food for later.


Stone piles have proven to be valuable habitats for invertebrates, frequently visited by birds hunting for insects. The mounds of stones also serve as singing sites for several male birds, including the yellowhammer. In total, our PV farm is now home to at least 45 bird species, showcasing a remarkable diversity.


Our commitment to studying the impact of solar PV farms on biodiversity remains steadfast. Continuing these investigations on other projects aligns with the objectives of our Biodiversity Strategy, emphasising the importance of measuring and monitoring biodiversity at the operational level across all our projects.

Why is it important to showcase solar and nature in harmony?

Showcasing solar and nature in harmony is a powerful communication tool that educates and inspires the implementation of more sustainable and environmentally conscious practices. By highlighting the harmonious relationship between solar energy and nature, we raise awareness about sustainable practices. This awareness is crucial for fostering a greater understanding of the environmental impact of renewable project development and management.


It also provides an opportunity to address concerns related to climate change and biodiversity loss, offering a positive narrative for the potential coexistence of technological progress and environmental conservation.

What can be done at EU and at local level to ensure solar and nature flourish together?

Fostering a harmonious relationship between solar energy and nature requires a collective effort at every level. At the EU level, the focus should be on implementing and strengthening policies that seamlessly integrate biodiversity considerations into renewable energy projects. Simultaneously, at the local level, a crucial aspect involves understanding the specifics of the local environment to apply appropriate solutions during project planning, ensuring a balanced coexistence of PV projects and nature.   


In general, at every stage, it is essential to support data gathering, knowledge sharing, exchanging best practices and good examples, and supporting positive initiatives to ensure the sustainable development of renewable energy projects.