Spatial Heterogeneity of Vegetation Communities and Soil Properties in a Desert Solar Photovoltaic Power Station of the Hexi Corridor, Northwestern China
Wen Shang 1,2
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College of Management, Northwest Minzu University, Lanzhou, 730030, China
State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Desertification and Aeolian Sand Disaster Combating, Gansu Desert Control Research Institute, Lanzhou 730070, China
Naiman Desertification Research Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
College of Urban Environment, Lanzhou City University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730070, China
Submission date: 2022-10-15
Final revision date: 2023-01-31
Acceptance date: 2023-02-02
Online publication date: 2023-03-08
Publication date: 2023-05-18
Corresponding author
Wen Shang   

Northwest Minzu University, China
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2023;32(3):2795-2807
Arid sandy areas have great potential for producing solar power, so many solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have been constructed in desert regions. Hexi corridor, a typical and broadly representative desert ecosystem in northwestern China, is well-known for its abundant sunshine and great numbers of solar PV systems. However, spatial heterogeneity in vegetation and soil properties across different PV panel locations in Hexi Corridor remain unclear to date. To address this gap, we evaluated the spatial heterogeneity of the vegetation community, and soil properties in and near a PV station in a desert region of the Hexi corridor. Measurements were conducted at six locations under and around the panels, and at distances of 200 to 600 m from the panels. Results show that the aboveground biomass (AGB) and three plant diversity indices differed from locations inside and outside the PV station. Soil water contents to a depth of 30 cm were greatest under the panels. Soil organic carbon (SOC) inside the PV station was higher than outside the PV station, and was increased with increasing distance from the panels. On the contrary, total nitrogen (TN) contents inside the PV station was lower than those outside the PV station. The differences in plant diversity indices, SOC, and TN between inside and outside were generally not significant. Our results indicate that solar PV construction on sandy land of the Hexi Corridor impact the spatial distribution of vegetation and soil properties, and the positive effects of PV panels on vegetation and soil may outweigh the negative effects.
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