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Beyond the standards of practice: How solar land use can improve soil health

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Regener8 Power is a UK-based renewable energy company that develops and manages sustainable Solar PV Systems. Our approach takes advantage of the ecological and agricultural opportunities within a given land parcel to deliver additional value alongside the provision of clean energy.

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A common misconception of solar land use in the United Kingdom is that the structures negatively impact soil and land quality.

While this can be true for developments that focus solely on the technical efficiency of the system for electricity generation, there are many additional opportunities to consider.

Regener8 Power follows an Ecovoltaic™ approach, integrating ecological features and landscape connectivity into the system design.

Solar Farm

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Through targeted land management practices, the electrical output of the system is balanced with additional ecological benefits such as soil health and habitat creation.

This means that land committed for a solar project will have a more sustainable future once the solar panels have been removed.

Landowners interested in hosting a solar project on their property are urged to consider additional benefits to the land over the long-term and ensure that any development is managed to exceed the minimum standards of practice.

Improving land quality

Solar developments are typically only permitted on land parcels that are not considered ‘best and most versatile’ (BMV), as these are the most acceptable parcels to remove from agricultural production.

Importantly, however, it must be recognised that this provides an opportunity for an uplift in soil quality and potential for future agricultural activities.

In light of numerous pressures on land use in the UK and growing environmental risks to the health of agricultural land, it is increasingly important to ensure the sustainability of land for food production in the future.  

Regener8 Power’s Ecovoltaic™ approach therefore contributes towards a vision for a healthy and sustainable agricultural landscape in the UK for the benefit of future generations.

Implementing agrivoltaics

When the land used for a solar development is of a high enough standard, including but not limited to being considered BMV, it requires a new type of agrivoltaic (APV) system.

This combines solar generation with productive agricultural activities in order to increase the overall efficiency of the land-use system.

Agrivoltaic systems look to integrate high-value agriculture into the design of the solar array, selecting specialised crops, grazing regimes and investing in new equipment to support operations within the parameters of the system.

There are a multitude of ecological benefits to agrivoltaic systems, such as creating an ideal microclimate that stimulates microbial growth and soil biodiversity, increased water retention, panel protection that reduces soil erosion and stress, food production, and the protection of native species.

These systems offer various societal benefits as well, including a diverse income stream for landowners, employment opportunities for the local community, a more productive use of the land and the opportunity to improve soil quality for future generations.

Soil carbon management

Additionally, both in traditional PV and APV Systems, regenerative management practices can increase the organic carbon content of the soil and improve its long-term storage in a stable form.

This not only contributes to the mitigation of climate change but also offers the opportunity for a project to gain certification for carbon removal benefits, including the opportunity to generate revenue in the voluntary carbon market.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the opportunities to proactively improve soil quality through the integration of good land management into the solar development process, or the numerous potential benefits of agrivoltaic systems, please do get in touch with Regener8 Power to discuss how these approaches can be implemented in keeping with your own opportunities.

Contact details:

Address: The Surrey Technology Centre, The Surrey Research Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK, GU2 7YG
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