An innovative approach to combine solar photovoltaic gardens with agricultural production and ecosystem services

Teodoro Semeraro*, Aurelia Scarano*, Angelo Santino, Rohinton Emmanuel, Marcello Lenucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Biodiversity and crop productivity are compromised by the ongoing worldwide decline of pollinator insects primarily driven by the narrow specialization of modern agricultural industry, dominated by monocultures and characterized by intensive herbicide and pesticide inputs. This approach has the double drawback of indiscriminately killing both invasive and beneficial insects while pauperizing the landscape limiting the areas of natural vegetation that normally provide habitat for pollinators. Here, an approach to develop green infrastructures (GI) is proposed (Ground Photovoltaic farms, GPv) to synergistically address ecological emergencies and socio-economic needs. Mainly, we focused on Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to foster pollination as a priority ecosystem service and medicinal herb production as a co-benefit, creating a shared value in the landscape. The results suggest that the replacement of ruderal herbaceous vegetation with selected autochthonous cultivated species in the area of GPv farms could increase land revenues by simultaneously improving the pollination ecological network and agricultural activities. The economic analysis of the proposed solutions indicates that the annual return rate of the initial investment for GPv farms-to-GI conversion is between 9 and 43%, with potential payback in three years. Hence, GI could become an ecological business model, capable of improving ecosystem services in the landscape, both private and public benefits. However, a transdisciplinary approach is important to share knowledge across the different stakeholders and bridge the information gaps typical of a sectoral perspective, creating a holistic vision of the involved professional skills and experiences. Its proper implementation requires the joint effort of all economic stakeholders together with technical and scientific experts to promote multifunctional land-use in GPv farms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101450
Number of pages14
JournalEcosystem Services
Volume56
Early online date25 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • pollination
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem services
  • nature-based solutions
  • agro-photovoltaic
  • ecological network
  • landscape planning

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