A new study from Britain suggests that bats dislike solar farms. The activity of six different species is reduced nearby.
According to Phys.org the results are troubling to researchers because bats are enormously important as insect predators. Reduced bat activity and numbers may have great consequences for people and other wildlife. If bats dislike solar farms harmful insects may abound.
The issue is also cautionary as the world explores sources of renewable alternative energy. Energy production often impacts wildlife and often negatively. The fact that renewable sources such as wind and solar can be a negative impact requires re-thinking how to go about advancing renewables.
According to Phys.org
“Lead author Lizy Tinsley from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences explained, “Renewable energies can have negative impacts on biodiversity and mitigation s essential to provide win-win solutions for energy suppliers and for wildlife
To carry out their experiment, the team set up bat static monitoring equipment in a solar farm field, and a matched field without solar panels (control site).
Fields were matched in size, land use, and boundary feature (e.g. hedge, fence, stream), and a bat detector was placed in the middle and edge of both fields, totaling four recording locations, repeated across 19 separate sites. Field boundaries were selected as they are important navigation features for bats.
The data from the different echolocation calls at recording points were then analyzed to identify the bat species and number of bat passes. They found that the activity level of common pipistrelle, noctule, myotis species, serotine, soprano pipistrelle and long-eared species was substantially lower at solar farm sites, compared to the paired control sites.” (Links in original)
Tinsley said, “Due to the significant negative impact identified, solar farm developments should be screened in an Environmental Impact Assessment for ecological impacts so that appropriate mitigation be designed against the impacts, and monitoring undertaken. This has already been done with wind farms—where mortality of bats has been reduced by changing the wind speeds at which turbines become operational and by using acoustic deterrents, at minimal cost.” (Links in original)
Bats have been in science new lately. Vampire bats appear to be moving into Texas. The compound they use to keep victim’s blood from clotting is called Draculin. It is under intense study. It is hoped it will yield drugs for blood diseases. Meanwhile, Tinsley and fellow researchers are continuing to study bats and solar farms.