Greencoat Capital: Boosting bees
Boosting bee populations across solar sites
What we know
Promoting biodiversity is an integral part of Greencoat Capital’s ESG approach.
For the solar farms under its stewardship, Greencoat Capital’s ambition is to ensure the associated natural assets are protected, and, where possible, improved over the lifetime of a site.
Bees perform about 80% of all pollination worldwide and keep our planet’s precious ecosystems growing and thriving. Given the benefits of bees in boosting biodiversity, and the opportunity that it offers to engage with local communities and educational institutions, supporting local bee populations has been a key focus at several of Greencoat Solar’s locations in 2021.
What we’re doing
Beehives already existed at a number of solar sites as part of local biodiversity initiatives.
However, when Greencoat Solar acquired the sites, it followed a structured approach to set up new beehives with the help of trusted partners. In 2021, Greencoat Solar decided to build apiaries at six of its solar plants – at Carlam, Bransholme, Rhewl 1, Rhewl 2, Kinmel 1 and Kinmel 2. It followed the necessary planning permission procedures by each Local Planning Authority and ensured that the construction and maintenance of the apiaries was completed with appropriate health and safety measures in place.
Greencoat Solar partnered with Conwy Beekeepers, the local beekeeper association in North Wales, and the GoodBee Company. They helped to set up a modern apiary environment and are responsible for the beekeeping activities. Most of the harvested honey is donated to the beekeeping partners.
The apiaries increase biodiversity on site, supporting bees and pollinator insects in general. The project aims to involve local communities and encourage them to engage with beekeeping. School visits are planned for 2022 so that students can learn more about bees, biodiversity and how it can be combined with renewable energy.
What it’s worth
Carlam, Bransholme, Rhewl 1 and Rhewl 2 have two beehives each and are already producing honey, while at Kinmel 1 and Kinmel 2, three beehives are under construction at each site.
In 2021, the honey produced by the bees on our sites was enough to send to each of our investors, and our colleagues within Greencoat. The rest of the honey went to the beekeepers.
The sites have also become part of a research project coordinated by Solar Energy UK and conducted by Lancaster University and a team of ecologists to establish a standardised approach of measuring biodiversity in our solar parks. The approach will be published and suggested to use by the industry in early 2022.
Greencoat Solar participated in the research by offering sites to the ecologists to carry out site visits, take measurements and monitor and test their approach to produce solid findings. Given the increasing importance of biodiversity in the industry and also in governmental legislation and local authorities regulations, the standardised methodology will be widely used across the industry.
Ecosystems underpin our economies and societies and will increasingly become an important driver of company valuations. We wanted to demonstrate that solar farms have not just a CO2 impact but also a positive natural capital impact. The work we continue to do aims to now quantify and demonstrate the benefits as not just CO2 but as the benefits to the wider environment. We are working hard to become a leader in our field and help drive the transition to net zero through a positive natural capital impact.Lee Moscovitch Partner, Greencoat Solar