Tag Archives: Fresh Energy

Highly compatible: pollinator-friendly solar projects and farming

By Katie Siegner, Scott Wentzell and Whitney Mann, Minnesota Post

Installed solar capacity in Minnesota crossed the 1-gigawatt threshold last fall, and is set to grow sixfold by 2030 to meet the state’s 10 percent solar energy goal. The management of the land below the panels — most commonly seeded with turf grass — offers an important opportunity to provide multiple environmental and agricultural benefits in addition to carbon free energy generation. Last fall, our team of graduate students at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies conducted a cost-benefit analysis of solar development on farmland in Minnesota, and the results were illuminating. By developing projects as pollinator-friendly — the practice of planting deep-rooted grasses and wildflowers throughout a project site — solar developers have the potential to provide habitat for threatened pollinator species, restore important prairie ecosystems, and boost the crop yields of nearby fields. Read more here.

Photo by SoCore Energy: Kearney Solar Farm

Previously posted article with information about Kearney’s Pollinator-Friendly Solar Farm and links to additional resources:
In bid to help bees, Xcel to require vegetation disclosure in solar RFPs

Note about OPPD’s Community-Scale Solar Farm now under construction by NextEra:
Courtney Kennedy, OPPD Alternative Energy Program Manager, announced at Nebraskans for Solar’s March 13th public forum on OPPD’s Solar Farm, located on an acreage in Fort Calhoun, that it will be pollinator-friendly, with native plants, as well.

WIND ENERGY AND CROPS

Iowa State University Research Finds Wind Farms Positively Impact Crops
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Nation’s Largest Solar Bee Farm in Ore. Creating Buzz

Public News Service

The Eagle Point solar farm outside Medford is the largest “solar apiary” in the country, incorporating designs that benefit pollinators. It’s home to 48 bee colonies interspersed among solar panels, which are generating enough energy to power more than 2,100 homes annually. Rob Davis, who directs the Center for Pollinators and Energy for the nonprofit Fresh Energy, connected North Carolina-based Pine Gate Renewables with a beekeeper in southern Oregon.
Read the entire news release here.

Photo by Pine Gate Renewables: A solar farm near Medford, Ore., also is home to 48 thriving bee colonies.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
USDA, NIFA Announce Investments in Pollinator Health Research, USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 14 grants totaling approximately $10 million for research to help sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“One-third of all U.S. crop production requires pollination by animals – primarily honey bees, but also wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and bats,” said Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “Recent declines in both managed and wild pollinators are of paramount importance to our nation’s food security and the vitality of natural resources.”

Solar that Benefits Birds & Pollinators – Workshop & Tour

By Rob Davis, Center for Pollinators in Energy

March 8, 2018
Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary
44450 Elm Island Road, Gibbon, Nebraska
Facebook Live Stream

In partnership with Kearney City officials, the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary, Nebraska Public Power District, and SoCore Energy, we invite you to learn more about Nebraska’s largest solar array and the benefits it provides to the community and environment.

This array is radically different from the solar photos you’ve seen from the Arizona desert. Bird- and pollinator-friendly flowers and grasses have been seeded under and around the solar panels. Planned specifically for a time when Kearney is a national destination for millions of Sandhill cranes, a panel of local and regional leaders will discuss economic development and care for nature and the land in the context of the growing trend of solar development by cooperatives around the country.

The conversation/workshop will be followed by a tour of the Kearney solar array, with a light lunch provided. The solar array tour will include opportunities for attendees to assemble boxes for native bees and broadcast a bird- and pollinator-friendly seed mix, with assistance from the Kearney Outdoor Learning Area (KOLA) high-school students.

Workshop/Conversation: 10:30 – 11:30 am
Mayor Stanley Clouse, City of Kearney
Bill Taddicken, Audubon Center
Jason Guernsey, Department of Economic Development, State of Nebraska
Jerry Vap, past Chairman of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, past president of the National Association of Conservation Districts
Moderator: Rob Davis, Fresh Energy
Light Lunch: 11:30 am – 12:10 pm
Solar Site Tour: 12:30 – 1:30 pm
SoCore Energy & NPPD
UNK’s Marc Albrecht
Pete Berthelson, native plant expert

Photos by Rob Davis (top) and G. Parker.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION
Introducing the Center for Pollinators in Energy, by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

188-2: Minnesota Sets Standard for Land Use on Solar Sites

Rob Davis’ TedX Minneapolis Talk – Click image to start it.

Beekeepers Sweeten Solar Sites With the ‘Tesla of Honey’

By pairing pollinators with solar farms, Travis and Chiara Bolton are reimagining commercial beekeeping.

By Christina Nunez, National Geographic

After installing their first solar hives in April, the Boltons took the concept and ran with it. They plan to extract 4,000 pounds of solar honey this year; some will be sold in grocery stores, while some will go to solar customers. They have also trademarked a Solar Honey standard and label that they hope other beekeepers will adopt, promoting the idea of smarter land use and local beekeeping. Continue reading.

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy

If you missed Fresh Energy’s Solar and Pollinator webinar on June 22, 2017, check back soon HERE for a recording of it.

RESOURCES PROVIDED BY FRESH ENERGY

Celebrate National Pollinator Week June 19-25 With Free Fresh Energy Webinar

Ten years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 19-25, 2017 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Watch Solar and Pollinators, a Fresh Energy Webinar this Thursday, June 22nd from 12 to 1 p.m.

RECOMMENDED READING