Effects of Revegetation on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties in Solar Photovoltaic Infrastructure

Chong Seok Choi, Alexander E. Cagle, Jordan Macknick, Dellena E. Bloom, Joshua S. Caplan, Sujith Ravi
2020 Frontiers in Environmental Science  
Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is being deployed at an unprecedented rate. However, utility-scale solar energy development is land intensive and its largescale installation can have negative impacts on the environment. In particular, solar energy infrastructure can require extensive landscape modification that transforms soil ecological functions, thereby impacting hydrologic, vegetative, and carbon dynamics. However, reintroducing native vegetation to solar PV sites may be a means of
more » ... be a means of restoring their soils. To this end, we investigated critical soil physical and chemical parameters at a revegetated photovoltaic array and an adjacent reference grassland in Colorado, United States. Seven years after revegetation, we found that carbon and nitrogen remained lower in the PV soil than in the reference soil and contained a greater fraction of coarse particles. We also found that the PV modules introduced heterogeneity in the soil moisture distribution, with precipitation accumulating along the lower edges of panels. The redistribution of soil moisture by panel arrays could potentially be used in concert with planting strategies to maximize plant growth or minimize soil erosion, and should be considered when evaluating the potential to co-locate vegetation with solar infrastructure.
doi:10.3389/fenvs.2020.00140 fatcat:exdlhrwzsbbp3bvqmjwfjibjeq