Biodiv Sci ›› 2024, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (2): 23212.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023212

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Ecological impacts of centralized large-scale photovoltaics and wind farms: Progress and prospects

Peng Yunyue1,*()(), Luo Yongmei1(), Xu Zenan2, Jin Tong1()   

  1. 1 The Nature Conservancy Beijing Representative Office, Beijing 100600
    2 Nankai University, Tianjin 300110
  • Received:2023-06-21 Accepted:2023-11-26 Online:2024-02-20 Published:2023-12-07
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Background and AimsDriven by China’s carbon neutrality goals, renewable energy is growing drastically, spurring the large-scale development of photovoltaics (PVs) and wind power. Despite this prevalence, systematic reviews detailing the ecological concerns associated with these technologies are scarce.

Method We provide an overview of domestic and international research on the environmental impact of centralized PV and onshore wind farms, focusing on species diversity and ecosystem services.

Results PVs and wind farms both alter climate factors, including temperature, humidity and wind speed. The construction of PVs and wind farms damages vegetation, causing soil erosion and water loss. Construction also results in solid waste and wastewater, contributing to pollution around the site. The ecological impact of PVs is mainly reflected by changes in vegetation and habitat quality, which can have adverse effects on certain species. In relatively arid areas, PVs can play a role in lowering temperatures and increasing humidity, promoting vegetation recovery. In desert areas, they can act as windbreaks. Wind farms can result in soil and vegetation disturbances, bird collisions and mortality, and habitat fragmentation, all of which affect species migration and regional ecosystem services. Despite these potential issues, current research remains insufficient in assessing ecological impact systematically.

Prospects We recommend research focusing on three particular areas: (1) Improving and unifying survey methods for accessing ecological impacts on centralized PVs and wind farms; (2) Adopting advanced ecological survey techniques; and (3) Strengthening systematic studies on ecological impacts at the species and ecosystem levels. Moving forward, it is necessary to study the ecological impacts of PVs and wind farms in depth. Biodiversity assessments should be implemented at the early stages of energy planning, and corresponding mitigation strategies should be adopted.

Key words: photovoltaics, wind power, ecological impacts, impact mechanism