Wind and solar power devices have adverse effects on local biodiversity. Turbines are rapidly impacting bird and bat populations through collision fatalities. Researchers calculate that around 538,000 birds die each year from wind turbines.
Bats are dying at similar rates and impacting the global ecosystem. When one sector of the ecosystem fails, other areas experience ripple effects of degradation. Insects are birds’ and bats' main food source.
When the species’ populations decline, insects can overpopulate and cause viral outbreaks. The biodiversity changes also minimize pollination rates, which adversely impact vegetation. Solar panels additionally cause degradation and limit renewable energy’s conservation benefits.
As installation professionals clear-cut areas to build solar farms, they decrease Earth’s ability to naturally filter greenhouse gas emissions. One tree can convert over 48 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen each year. Deforestation increases atmospheric emissions and climate change effects.
Panels also shade the soil beneath them and limit vegetation growth. Decreasing vegetation minimizes species’ natural habitats and causes forced migration. Ecologists assess the biodiversity challenges associated with renewable energy systems and determine their contributions to global sustainability.
Though wind and solar power present ecological challenges, they support governments’ emission targets. The United Nations’ Paris Agreement targets greenhouse gas emissions as the main cause of environmental degradation. Renewable energy minimizes society’s reliance on fossil fuels, which produce vast quantities of greenhouse gases.
Clean power systems also support America’s Build Back Better plan. The policy targets emissions by expanding offshore wind energy production.
Environmental engineers and scientists are developing sustainable solutions to biodiversity challenges and improving the energy sector’s sustainability.
Energy professionals can reduce biodiversity loss near wind and solar farms by efficiently managing sites. They may keep birds and bats away from farms by lining devices with repelling scents. Garlic and peppermint oil are repulsive to many species and prevent them from colliding with turbines.
Ecological engineers are also developing new wind turbines to minimize fatal interactions with bats and birds. One company created a bladeless turbine that vibrates instead of rotating to generate electricity. The device extends vertically like a conventional turbine shaft without the collision-causing components.
Bladeless turbines are also smaller than the conventional versions because they are narrow. They reduce the necessary natural space for energy production.
Floating solar panels reduce clear-cutting and natural resource exploitation by minimizing land use. These “floatovoltaic” panels produce renewable energy on top of lakes and the ocean. They capture solar radiation without degrading the natural environment. The panels also protect marine ecosystems by preventing algal blooms and eutrophication.
Installation professionals can also use mindful placement practices to support low-light vegetation with solar panels. Certain plants like tomatoes need protection from the sun to grow. Individuals may place panels above the plants to promote development.
Preserving biodiversity and the ecosystem is essential to climate change prevention. Birds and bats help pollinate flowering vegetation. Without their reproduction contributions, the ecosystem would degrade.
Plants process surface-level greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting their development can minimize atmospheric pollution. Energy professionals may improve renewable electricity production and biodiversity conservation by accessing government funding.
Project developers can expand solar and wind farms using government tax credits as financial aid. Engineers and scientists may also access incentives to support technological advancements that protect biodiversity levels. Consumers can additionally improve the renewable energy market’s sustainability by demanding eco-conscious production practices.
Energy customers may influence the market by solely consuming green power supplies. Electricity companies must develop low-impact wind and solar farms to meet eco-consumer demands and remain competitive in the industry.