Solar panels and biodiversity

Aquafin is a large consumer of electricity and made the choice several years ago to use only green and renewable electricity.
Expanding the green-blue network

City : Flanders

Region : Flanders

Project by : Aquafin

Joined on : Oct 2022

Project

Aquafin is a large consumer of electricity and made the choice several years ago to use only green and renewable electricity.

Current energy prices are accelerating the installation of solar panels on our industrial sites. Generating green power is positive in terms of climate issues but has the disadvantage of taking up some of our remaining open space. Until recently, our technical people only looked at the maximum yield of the solar panels.

From now on, with every new project, the biodiversity working group is invited to provide advice. We are mapping valuable biodiverse sites at our plants, which play an important role as a stepping stone. (solar parks at water treatment plants)

These sites must be left untouched or mostly so. We are also mapping sites where we can enhance biodiversity so that solar panels and biodiversity can go hand in hand.

Who is involved?

Internal energy manager, internal working group biodiversity, internal ambassadors ecological landscaping

Nature-based solutions

For this project, the focus is mainly on maintaining the existing biodiversity while generating green power.

How are the criteria met?

Criteria :
Respect and/or enhance the specific environmental and ecological qualities of the area (e.g. topography, landscape type, local flora and fauna, etc.).

Maintenance criterion:
For each site, Aquafin has issued guidelines for the management of the site's biodiversity, which are included in a framework contract for the management of green spaces.

How:
When placing solar panels we also take into account the visual aspect, we try to hide them as much as possible from the view of cyclists and walkers.

The location should have minimal impact on existing biodiversity, and we try to offset the negative impact elsewhere on the site, for example by not shading a pond sunbed.

The area around our solar panels should be maintained with the utmost respect for biodiversity, for example by progressive mowing instead of traditional mowing.

Benefits

The good cooperation and dialogue with the technical people ensures that there is also more understanding among them about this new approach. We also note that greater awareness has emerged when talking about the importance of biodiversity.

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