Renewable energy investment company Low Carbon has partnered with sustainability company Plan Bee to promote biodiversity at five solar farms in Cornwall, Dorset and Suffolk, installing 25 new bee hives.
Honeybee populations have halved in the UK over the last two decades, due to climate change, mites, pesticides, bee disorders and a dramatic reduction in meadow flowers due to landscape changes of use. Plan Bee partners with businesses like Low Carbon to support and increase UK populations of the valuable insect, an essential component in the balance of the ecosystem.
Each of the five sites will host more than 300,000 bees to help cultivate local crops and encourage biodiversity. A remote monitoring system is planned, which will allow Plan Bee to keep tabs on each bee colony by monitoring parameters such as brood temperature, humidity, hive weight, hive acoustics and weather conditions.
The health and activity of each hive is assessed using this unique monitoring system, gathering data integral for the health and protection of bees. The data is collected wirelessly and transmitted to a monitor gateway. This allows the beekeepers to easily access and understand the data, which is displayed online in an easy-to-use graphical interface.
Each hive will produce high-quality local honey, which will be sent to stakeholders and partners in the ongoing effort to raise awareness of the plight of bees and continued support for renewable energy.
Quentin Scott, Low Carbon’s Marketing Director said: “We are committed to protecting local habitats and ecosystems on our solar farms. Encouraging biodiversity should not be a bolt-on for renewable energy companies, but rather a core responsibility. Protecting bees, insects and other species is a crucial part in the fight against climate change and we look forward to continuing our work with Plan Bee in the future.”
Low Carbon works across the solar, concentrated solar power, wind and anaerobic digestion sectors. It currently operates over 270MW of operational solar energy assets in the UK.
The company’s ethos is to play a central part in the farming communities surrounding its sites. By locating on fallow land that is unusable for agriculture, Low Carbon aims to deliver a long-term investment in these areas.
Quentin Scott added: “By taking measurable steps to install beehives on our solar farms, we hope to show that investing in solar PV on their land needn’t be at the cost of local wildlife. Through our community outreach, we want to help champion biodiversity”
Warren Bader, Plan Bee Ltd’s CEO said: “We’re delighted to be working with a prestigious renewable energy company like Low Carbon, who share our vision on biodiversity and sustainability. They’re playing a part in supporting the local communities in which they work. Like the bee community they are working together for the betterment of the collective. While renewable energy companies are sustainable by their very nature, we offer them the opportunity of improved ROI, which we like to think of as ‘return on involvement’.