A new deal between the RSPB and ethical banking group, Triodos Bank, has helped install solar panels in seven nature reserves.
The new panels aim to provide 10% of the RSPB’s total annual energy usage, a starting point to the organisation’s goal of generating at least 50% of the energy that it uses from sources on its estate, by 2020. In 2009, a new wind turbine was built at Rainham Marshes and made waves as one of the most environmentally-friendly developments in the Thames Gateway at the time. 2016 saw a second wind turbine installed at the charity’s Bedfordshire headquarters, which now generates over half the RSPB’s electricity needs.
The switch to solar power pays off due to the money saved on electricity bills and giving back to the grid, with repayments to the bank being made over a 20 year period. This will allow the charity to focus its spending on conservation projects, of which there are 200 ongoing that protect species such as stone-curlews and yellow hammers.
The solar panels have been installed with consideration, limiting the impact to nature on the reserves, informed by research conducted beforehand. They have been placed on the roofs of the buildings at the sites and other structures like car park canopies. One exception is Minsmere’s ground mounted panels that were designed to provide shelter that enables rare antlions to catch pray.
Global installed capacity for solar-powered energy has seen an exponential growth, reaching around 227 GWe by the end of 2015. Overall, in 2017 renewable energy accounted for 30.6 % of gross final electricity consumption, 19.3 % of energy consumption used for heating and cooling, and 7.2 % of transport fuel consumption, in the whole EU. Solar continues to be an increasingly popular option for a feasible and sustainable supply and a positive way forward for the future.
Image credit: StockSnap
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