What Kind of Impact Solar Photovoltaic Stations Exert on Soil and Vegetation?

What Kind of Impact Solar Photovoltaic Stations Exert on Soil and Vegetation?

Has the damage caused to vegetation or biodiversity from the installation of solar photovoltaic panels been considered in "Strategic Plan for Development of Energy Sector of the Republic of Armenia (till 2040)"? Nune Sakanyan, President of “Women in Climate and Energy” NGO, raised a question about this during "Energy Development in Armenia under the Paris Agreement" expert round table.

The answer given by the experts of the round table was unilateral - no. Responding to Nune Sakanyan's question, Vahan Sargsyan, Director of Energy Strategy Center (ESC) of “Scientific Research Institute of Energy” CJSC noted that “The more solar technologies develop, the more their efficiency increased, so the greater their negative impact is on the environment. Increasing its efficiency means that it takes most of the energy from the sun and converts it into electricity. I have seen the soil under the solar panels become dead soil. The larger the area of ​​the stations, the greater the negative impact on the environment. So many areas are just lost whereas in case of Armenia, they are mainly agricultural lands. The issue of waste is also a serious problem,” he outlined.

Vahagn Atanyan, Head of Department of Energy Efficiency and Technical Standards of Energy Unit, said that in this case there is a combination of interests from the economic viewpoint.

“Our zones where these stations are built do not cover the Ararat Valley, where the fertile lands are located. These stations will be located in Aragatsotn, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik Regions, where the use of fertile agricultural land areas is not so much. It is desirable not to use fertile land areas, but these energy sources are very important for us. The alternative may be not to implement these projects at all,” Atayan noted and added that large solar power stations will undergo Environmental Impact Assessment.

In this regard, expert Rosa Julhakyan noted that the "Masrik 1" solar station is being built on the land, where the thickness of the vegetation cover is 70 cm.

Astghine Pasoyan, Director of Foundation to Save Energy, in her turn, mentioned. "For five years now, NGOs in our field have been saying that the promotion of solar energy should be supported with special criteria, because they usually choose fertile and smooth, fertile lands close to networks, infrastructure and cities. It is a pity.

The experience outside is such that if you do not want poor land areas, you want to spoil good land areas, then you cannot use the green tariff. It is very common to apply incentive tariffs in case of construction on abandoned tailing dumps and saline soil, whereas many countries do not have any tendency to manage waste."

Reminder: according to RA Energy Sector Development Strategic Program (til 2040), it is envisaged to increase the share of solar energy production in the energy balance to at least 15% or 1.8 billion kWh by 2030.

March 22, 2021 at 17:14