The UK’s largest solar developer, Lightsource Renewable Energy has partnered with the UK’s largest conservation charity, RSPB as part of the charity’s ‘give nature a home’ campaign.

A nationwide competition has been launched today to design a new bird or bat box that will be installed on solar farms. Pupils across the UK are being invited to submit designs with the chance to win a free solar array for the winning entrants’ schools.

Drawings submitted will be whittled down by a specialist panel, with shortlisted finalists’ plans brought to life. Overall winners will then be picked in each of the 12 regions in the UK.   

All of the pupils’ drawings that make the final shortlist will be given the opportunity to see their boxes in use at one of Lightsource’s solar farms. 

Commenting on the launch of the competition, Mark Turner, operations director at Lightsource, said: “We hope that this competition will give pupils, teachers and parents a better understanding of how solar energy works and the benefits it can bring to biodiversity for both ground and rooftop installations. The passive nature of solar technology makes it ideal for working alongside wildlife conservation efforts and habitat enhancements, as it creates no noise or pollution. It is this ability to generate clean, safe electricity whilst maintaining a respect for nature that makes solar power such a viable renewable energy source.”

The competition forms part of the RSPB’s wider ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign which aims to encourage the British public provide spaces for wildlife — from ponds to planting pollen-rich plants. 

Suzanne Welch, Education Manager at the RSPB, said: “The RSPB is delighted to be working with Lightsource on this fun and interactive competition, which benefits schools and the environment. We can all do our bit for nature in our gardens or outside space, and this competition offers a fantastic prize whilst encouraging children to give nature a home.”

The conservation charity has previously championed the role that solar farms can play in boosting biodiversity, after it partnered with the National Solar Centre to publish biodiversity guidance for solar developers

A recent survey carried out by the RSPB discovered that there has been a 60% decline in more than 3,000 native species of plants and animals. 

Lightsource’s Turner said that he hoped the the competition will help pupils understand the importance of replacing fossil fuels, he said: “It will be the future generations who really feel the effects of the rapidly depleting fossil fuel supplies around the world. It’s important to educate on the need for a reliable and renewable source of home-grown energy.”