Land use change is a major driver of soils’ properties variation and potential degradation. Solar photovoltaic plants installed on the ground represent a key to mitigating global climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. However, it could represent an emerging source of land consumption, although reversible, which prevents the use of soils for agricultural purposes and may affect crucial ecosystems services. Despite the large widespread deployment of photovoltaic plants, their potential effect on soil properties has been poorly investigated. The aim of this study was to assess changes of soil physical, chemical and biochemical properties seven years after the installation of the panels. For this purpose, the soil under photovoltaic panels was compared with the GAP area between the panels’ arrays and with an adjacent soil not affected by the plant. The main results showed that seven years of soil coverage modified soil fertility with the significant reduction of water holding capacity and soil temperature, while electrical conductivity (EC) and pH increased. Additionally, under the panels soil organic matter was dramatically reduced (-61% and -50% for TOC and TN, respectively compared to GAP area) inducing a parallel decrease of microbial activity assessed either as respiration or enzymatic activities. As for the effect of land use change, the installation of the power plant induced significant changes in soils’ physical, chemical and biochemical properties creating a striped pattern that may require some time to recover the necessary homogeneity of soil properties but shouldn’t compromise the future re-conversion to agricultural land use after power plant decommissioning.


Decomposition models of solar irradiance estimate the magnitude of diffuse horizontal irradiance from global horizontal irradiance. These two radiation components are well-known to be essential for the prediction of solar photovoltaic systems performance. In open-field agrivoltaic systems, that is the dual use of land for both agricultural activities and solar power conversion, cultivated crops receive an unequal amount of direct, diffuse and reflected photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) depending on the area they are growing due to the non-homogenously shadings caused by the solar panels installed (above the crops or vertically mounted). It is known that PAR is more efficient for canopy photosynthesis under conditions of diffuse PAR than direct PAR per unit of total PAR. For this reason, it is fundamental to estimate the diffuse PAR component in agrivoltaic systems studies to properly predict the crop yield.

Solar electricity from solar parks in rural areas are cost effective and can be deployed fast therefore play an important role in the energy transition. The optimal design of a solar park is largely affected by income scheme, electricity transport capacity, and land lease costs. Important design parameters for utility-scale solar parks that may affect landscape, biodiversity, and soil quality are ground coverage ratio, size, and tilt of the PV tables. Particularly, low tilt PV at high coverage reduces the amount of sunlight on the ground strongly and leads to deterioration of the soil quality over the typical 25-year lifetime. In contrast, vertical PV or an agri-PV designed fairly high above the ground leads to more and homogeneous ground irradiance; these designs are favored for pastures and croplands. In general, the amount and distribution of ground irradiance and precipitation will strongly affect which crops can grow below and between the PV tables and whether this supports the associated food chain. As agrivoltaics is the direct competition between photosynthesis and photovoltaics. Understanding when, where and how much light reaches the ground is key to relate the agri-PV solar park design to the expected agricultural and electricity yields. We have shown that by increasing the minimum height of the system, decreasing the size of the PV tables and decreasing the coverage ratio, the ground irradiance increases, in particular around the gaps between the tables. The most direct way of increasing the lowest irradiance in a solar park design is to use semi-transparent PV panels, such as the commercially available bifacial glass-glass modules. In conclusion: we have shown that we can achieve similar ground irradiance levels in an east- and west-facing design with 77% ground coverage ratio as is achieved by a south-facing design at 53% coverage.

This paper proposes techno-ecological synergy (TES), a framework for engineering mutually beneficial relationships between technological and ecological systems, as an approach to augment the sustainability of solar energy across a diverse suite of recipient environments, including land, food, water, and built-up systems.

This study outlines some of the impacts large-scale solar facilities can have on the local environment, provides examples of installations where impacts have been minimized through co-location with vegetation, characterizes the types of colocation, and gives an overview of the potential benefits from co-location of solar energy projects and vegetation.

This report seeks to contribute to public understanding of the land use issues related to solar and wind power in the United States. The report draws upon research published during the 10-year period from 2009 to 2019.

This publication provides a pictorial guide to several of the most beneficial hedgerow plant species used in farmscaping for native pollinators and insect predators and parasites in California.

States Presentations include: FHWA Renewable Energy in Highway Rights of Way Peer Exchange: March 2018, Salt Lake City, UT, Summary Report

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