By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive
[Xcel Energy Minnesota] plans to add 2,600 MW to 3,000 MW of solar generation by 2030 and all those projects will be required to disclose a completed copy scorecard for pollinator-friendly sites. Pollinator-friendly vegetation isn’t required in order for a project to be considered by the utility, but it will establish a precedent “of priorities and values,” Rob Davis, director of the center for pollinators in energy at Fresh Energy, told Utility Dive.
Pollinator friendly solar sites are a growing trend among utilities seeking to more holistically reduce their ecological footprint. Sites are designated as “pollinator friendly” based on state legislation, which was first passed in Minnesota in 2016 and has since spread to five other states. Read more here.
Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy
Kearney’s Solar Farm, comprising 22,464 panels on 53 acres at Tech oNE Crossing, is currently Nebraska’s largest. The 5.7-megawatt solar array’s generating capacity is enough to power about 900 houses or supply 5 percent of Kearney’s energy load.
An additional distinguishing feature of Kearney’s Solar Farm is that it is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. Related stories:
- Entire 53-acre site in northeast Kearney seeded with plants for pollinators, Kearney Hub
- Celebrating solar power while protecting pollinators and birds, Nebraska TV
- Nebraska’s Largest Solar Array is Surrounded by Bird-Friendly Plants, Audubon
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Photo by Engie Distributed Solar
- Pollinator habitats: The bees’ knees of rural solar development, Utility Dive
- More states use solar plants to protect bumble bee populations, PV Magazine
- Solar Power and Honey Bees Make a Sweet Combo in Minnesota, Modern Farmer
- Beekeepers Sweeten Solar Sites With the ‘Tesla of Honey’, National Geographic
- The business case for pollinator-friendly solar sites, GreenBiz
- Pollinator-friendly Solar: Everybody Loves It, Fresh Energy
- Solar arrays abuzz thanks to new pollinator-friendly vegetation initiative, Solar Power World
- Green Landscapes on Solar Sites-an Enormous Business Opportunity, Ecological Landscape Alliance
- Utility & Community Solar Should Use Native Landscaping, CleanTechnica
- Introducing the Center for Pollinators in Energy, Plus Fresh Energy Resources
- National Renewable Energy Lab Webinar: Co-locating Agriculture and Solar
- TED Talk: Why Bees Are Disappearing
- Pollinator–friendly Solar with Monarch Joint Venture
- Solar Sanctuaries: Bee- and Bird-friendly Clean Energy, PowerPoint, Linda McGinnis, Energy Action Network and UVM GUND Institute for Ecological Economics
- Minnesota’s Legislative Bill HF 3353: Voluntary solar site management practices established
- Audubon Case Study: Minnesota Solar Sanctuaries Bill. This case study describes Audubon Minnesota’s role in creating and passing a bill to set voluntary standards for solar energy sites that are friendly to birds and other pollinators.
- Pollinator Health: State Laws, National Conference of State Legislatures
WIND ENERGY & CROPS
Iowa State University Research Finds Wind Farms Positively Impact Crops
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach