The Solar Sustainability Award recognises top sustainability performers in the sector, for their work to maximise the positive impact of solar on communities, the climate and environment. The Award aims to highlight and share sustainability best-practice within the sector – and ultimately take solar forward as the sustainable energy leader.
David Moser of EURAC Research, Alexandra Sombsthay of Akuo Energy, and Matthew Merfert of First Solar, comprised the panel of judges for this year's Solar Sustainability Award. Finalists commended by the panel included Emilien Simonot and Susete Patricio of Galp, David Verdú of REC Solar Norway, Hans Olav Kvalvaag of Scatec Solar, and Beth England of Sonnedix. The nominees presented their projects virtually, with their pitches available to watch here.
The sixth finalist, Miriam Di Blasi, outlined Enel Green Power’s massive demo-program for the Sustainable Solar Park, and was awarded the 2022 Solar Sustainability Award by public vote. Matthew Merfert of First Solar, and Chair of SolarPower Europe's Sustainability Workstream, presented the award at the SolarPower Summit.
Across three EU countries, involving different climatic zones, more than 15 MW tests and more than 300,000 m² of land, as well as 4 PV technologies and 8 different layouts, Enel Green Power's program aims to discover the best innovative and mutually beneficial agro-zoological practices to embed in solar utility-scale projects.
Enel Green Power’s program tested the capacity of biodiversity integration along all aspects of a solar farm installation – finding distinct benefits for soil quality, pollinator habitat, plant management, environmental health monitoring and biodiversity restoration. Ms Di Blasi also presented the promising preliminary results of Enel Green Power’s collaboration with farmers, with solar installations protecting crops from strong temperatures and reducing water consumption.
Miriam Di Blasi, Head of Environment and Impacts Mitigation - Innovation of Enel Green Power, said: “At Enel Green Power we are developing new models and solutions to improve the environmental and social sustainability of photovoltaic plants, testing innovative approaches to preserve biodiversity and foster the ecosystem services. We are designing new multi-stakeholders collaborative business models in partnership with farms and local communities, co-locating agro-zoological activities on ground-mounted photovoltaic plants and creating shared value with our Partners.”
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe said: “The principle of sustainability is the driving force behind solar development. Enel Green Power’s significant undertaking to take solar sustainability even further, providing invaluable research that the whole sector can learn from, is rightly recognised by this year's Solar Sustainability Award.”