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Imagine a field out in the middle of nowhere covered in a collection of heliostats‚ the solar panels that form a "farm" on which energy is harvested. Like robotic sunflowers‚ they have little mirrors that turn throughout the day to catch the sun. As the global fight against fossil fuels rages on‚ these farms seem utopian — until an image of water loss‚ birds crashing into panels‚ and flying dust emerges. For the first time‚ a group of local scientists has begun looking at the collective impact when many such farms spring up in an area. "We acknowledge the huge benefits of wind and solar power‚ but we also need to understand the new forms of impact they could have‚" said professor Karen Esler‚ who supervised the research just published in the South African Journal of Science. "Mainly of concern are habitat loss‚ water loss‚ dust‚ and the impact on bird life. This is the first time anyone is considering collectively what the impacts would be." Photovoltaic (PV) solar farms are already...

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