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Honeybee pollination benefits could inform solar park business cases, planning decisions and environmental sustainability targets

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Published
Article number109332
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Biological Conservation
Volume263
Number of pages12
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/10/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Renewable energy deployment has accelerated exponentially, taking up a growing area of land at a time of increasing land use pressure and environmental degradation. Land use change for renewable energy can have positive and negative environmental consequences, but robustly quantifying the effects is challenging. Here, we evaluate the monetary benefits of pollination services from installing honeybee hives in solar parks and discuss how they could inform policy and practice. If honeybee hives were installed in all existing solar parks within England, we estimate that the pollination service benefits for pollinator dependent field crops, top fruits and soft fruit would have been £5.9 million in 2017. This is grounded in honeybee pollination crop values of £4.81–£75.04 ha−1 for field crops and £635–£10,644 ha−1 for fruit. However, given the greater field crop land areas the total associated economic benefits were greater than for fruit. Honeybee pollination service benefits could theoretically be as high as £80 million per year if the spatial distribution of crops was altered. However, the viability of this is uncertain given other factors that influence crop location and the potential trade-offs with wild pollinators. We outline how honeybee pollination service benefits could contribute to solar park business cases, inform the planning process, and be used as environmental sustainability indicators by industry. Such energy-economic-ecosystem wins demonstrate the potential of incorporating environmental co-benefits into energy decarbonisation policies and a means of addressing the land-energy-ecosystem nexus.