“The monitoring parameters of bee activity are positive and have confirmed a virtuous coexistence between photovoltaic greenhouses and the external environment”


In December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared May 20th of every year to be World Bee Day. This resolution finds its origin in the Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production published in February 2016 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The Report highlighted how an ever-increasing number of pollinator species around the world were on the brink of extinction due to various types of pressures, mainly man-made such as pollution and climate change.

Indeed, over the past decade, there has been a significant global decline in bee colonies (18%), with significant repercussions not only on honey production (in Italy, for example, in 2023 the National Honey Observatory recorded a spring drop of over 75%), but also on biodiversity conservation. Bees play a fundamental role in this field as they visit numerous flowers in search of nectar and pollen, thus promoting plant reproduction. About 70% of the world’s 115 major food crops benefit from animal pollination. In Europe, about 80% of the 264 cultivated species depend on the activity of insect pollinators.
In this context, EF Solare Italia, through its subsidiary Renovalia, is experimenting with the ‘Miele del Sole’ project to protect bees in some solar plants in Spain where, thanks to agreements with local beekeepers, it has been possible to set up beehives. The coexistence between photovoltaic plants and bees went so well that a small quantity of almost 80 kg of honey was produced and gifted to customers, suppliers, and local institutions, proving that coexistence between plants and bees is not only possible, but even desirable. In Italy, our Scalea and Orsomarso solar plants have been equipped with intelligent hives capable of monitoring bee activity for years. Thanks to sensors powered by small photovoltaic panels, it is possible to remotely monitor the hive’s weight, temperature variation, humidity, and consequently, the well-being of the bees themselves. Furthermore, it is also possible to study bee pollination activity inside greenhouses.
Being careful not to interfere with the flight of bees, the treatments foreseen for the plants grown in the greenhouses are carried out during the twilight hours and have always included the use of organic products permitted by the integrated production regulations.

In recent years, the parameters observed from the analysis and monitoring of bee activities have been positive and have confirmed a virtuous coexistence between the photovoltaic greenhouses and the external environment. This activity has also helped raise awareness year after year among operators and surrounding communities, promoting care and protection of this delicate natural balance.

There are numerous studies highlighting how photovoltaic parks can be an important ecosystem restoration site that allows bees, and pollinating insects in general, to proliferate, thus contributing to the protection of the planet’s biodiversity. A five-year study by the Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, examined two solar sites in Minnesota installed on fallow and cultivated agricultural lands with native grasses and wildflowers. Researchers found that the total number of insects tripled, while that of native bees increased by a staggering 20 times. Nearby crops also benefited.

Similar results have been obtained from studies conducted in Europe, such as that of the Bundesverband Neue Energiewirtschaft (The German Association of the New Energy Economy), which involved 75 photovoltaic plants in Germany. In this case too, researchers highlight how properly designed photovoltaic parks can have a very positive impact on biodiversity, with an increase not only in the number of insects but also in reptiles and other small animals.

New avenues are therefore opening for the symbiosis between the most hardworking and valuable insects in nature and photovoltaics, which have always had a mission to safeguard the planet in their DNA, not neglecting even its smallest inhabitants.


© EF Solare Italia 2024
Powered by Oxjno