Ecological and social impacts of photovoltaic solar power plants and optimization of their locations in northern Chile
Julkaistu sarjassaJyväskylä studies in biological and environmental science
Large scale photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants are gaining popularity in Chile. Solar energy potential in northern Chile is one of the best worldwide and true deserts are considered ideal environments for solar power plant projects. Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on earth. Nevertheless, northern Chile is home for many endemic species with 40 different vegetation types. The thesis presents studies of ecological effects (I-II) and location optimization of PV solar power plants in northern Chile (III). For ecological impacts two types of PV solar power plant technologies were studied: fixed mount solar plant and solar- tracking mounts. Study units were placed below the mounts or between the panels. Reference area was outside the panel area. Arthropod species composition was altered between shade and sun conditions at fixed mount power plant and, for example, dipterans were more common in shade conditions. Fixed mount solar power plants’ shade conditions can act as refuge to some arthropod groups, but for vegetation, shade conditions can disturb their florescence. Abiotic conditions limited local spider species habitat selection, but invasive spider species Lactrodectus geometricus could colonize mount legs of entire plant. Precaution should be taken when planning PV projects in areas with sensitive nature. Northern Chile is an ideal place for solar power plant projects because of its high solar energy potential but environmental and social aspects of site selection should be considered. Ideal places with low environmental and landscape value are in the absolute desert situated in the central valley starting from Arica and reaching until the northern part of Atacama region. Nevertheless, cities and historical sites should be avoided. The results of this thesis provide new information about ecological environment of PV plants and gives alternatives to multidisciplinary site selection. ...
JulkaisijaUniversity of Jyväskylä
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