Tag Archives: Ensia

How Land Under Solar Panels Can Contribute to Food Security

By Frank Jossi, Ensia

With more land being devoted to solar energy production, the idea of making those acres pollinator friendly seems to make ecological and economic sense. “Incorporating habitat into these solar farms across the nation is a good way to promote and protect pollinator health,” says Val Dolcini, president and CEO of the San Francisco­–based Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organization promoting pollinator environments.

Under-panel native plants benefit not just their immediate solar farm surroundings but nearby cropland. Lee Walston, an ecologist at Argonne National Laboratory, says pollinating insects roam beyond solar installations to other agricultural fields, where they help increase production. Native plantings offer refuge for declining species such as monarch butterflies and rusty patched bumblebees while serving the additional purpose of controlling stormwater and erosion, he adds. Read more here.

Ensia Editor’s Note: Frank Jossi is Minnesota correspondent for Midwest Energy News, an editorially independent publication of Fresh Energy. Rob Davis, who is quoted in the article, is the director of Fresh Energy’s Center for Pollinators in Energy.

Photo Credit: Prairie Restoration Inc.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Small as energy maker, solar farm generates big interest

Analysis Shows That Community Solar Is Competitive in the Vast Majority of the US

Solar is cheap no matter where you live, writes SunShot’s Caroline McGregor. Published by Greentech Media

community-solar

Because community solar projects are often larger and can take advantage of bulk pricing, their installed costs are more in-line with commercial solar systems, which cost approximately $2.00 per watt to $2.50 per watt. Holding everything else constant, the number of states in the analysis with positive SIRs [savings to investment ratios] increases to 35-48 states with these lower installed costs, which means solar energy is potentially affordable in the vast majority of the country through the community solar business model. Though this is a very basic analysis, it illustrates that solar is quickly becoming one of the most cost-effective sources of energy for all Americans, regardless of where they live. Read more.

Carolyn McGregor is the acting soft costs program manager for the DOE’s SunShot Initiative.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Want to Improve Wind and Solar Power? Bring Them Together, by Ben Jervey, Ensia
Ben Jervey is a writer and editor covering climate, energy, and environment. He writes regularly for National Geographic News, OnEarth, and DeSmogBlog. He recently worked with Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer.