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Effects of solar park construction and solar panels on soil quality, microclimate, CO 2 effluxes, and vegetation under a Mediterranean climate

Abstract : Solar energy is increasingly used to produce electricity in Europe, but the environmental impact of constructing and running solar parks (SP) is not yet well studied. Solar park construction requires partial vegetation removal and soil leveling. Additionally, solar panels may alter soil microclimate and functioning. In our study of three French Mediterranean solar parks, we analyzed:(1) effects of solar park construction on soil quality by comparing solar park soils with those of semi-natural land cover types (pinewood and shrubland) and abandoned croplands (former vineyards); and (2) the effect of solar panels on soil microclimate, CO2 effluxes, and vegetation. We measured 21 soil properties of physical, chemical, and microbiological soil quality in one solar park and its surroundings to calculate integrated indicators of soil quality. We surveyed soil temperature and moisture, CO2 effluxes, and vegetation below and outside solar panels of three solar parks. Soil aggregate stability was reduced by SP construction resulting in a degradation of soil physical quality. Soil chemical quality and a general indicator of soil quality were lower in anthropogenic (SP and abandoned vineyards) than in semi-natural (pinewood and shrubland) land cover types. However, differences between abandoned vineyards representing the preconstruction land cover type and solar parks were not significant. Solar panels reduced the soil temperature by 10% and soil CO2 effluxes by 50% but did not affect early successional plant communities. Long-term monitoring is needed to evaluate the effects of solar panels on vegetation.
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https://hal-amu.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03440295
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 5, 2022 - 2:48:16 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 1, 2022 - 3:17:17 AM

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Quentin Lambert, Armin Bischoff, Sixtine Cueff, Alexandre Cluchier, Raphael Gros. Effects of solar park construction and solar panels on soil quality, microclimate, CO 2 effluxes, and vegetation under a Mediterranean climate. Land Degradation and Development, 2021, 32 (18), pp.5190-5202. ⟨10.1002/ldr.4101⟩. ⟨hal-03440295⟩

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