Tag Archives: pollinator-friendly solar sites

The US Remains the Market to Beat for Corporate Renewable Purchases

By Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

The U.S. made up the majority of last year’s deals, accounting for 8.5 gigawatts of the global total. That trend holds this year, with companies in the U.S. signing up for nearly 6 gigawatts, or 70 percent of deals worldwide. Texas accounts for 40 percent of U.S. activity this year, thanks to its rich wind and solar resources and deregulated electricity market. While wind has dominated the corporate renewables market in years past, solar is beginning to catch up, as Greentech Media has covered. Of the various types of corporate deals, virtual power purchase agreements remain the default choice for many customers, allowing them to circumvent utilities and the green tariff programs they offer. BloombergNEF analyst Kyle Harrison said the U.S. has reached “triple digits when it comes to virtual PPAs.”  Read more here.

Previously Posted Virtual Power Purchase Agreements

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Solar and pollinators: a photo essay

By Rob Davis, Director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy
at Fresh Energy, PV Magazine

A promising new trend is showing signs of incrementally helping the solar industry to increase revenue, decrease operations and management costs, open up new markets, accelerate permitting, decrease litigation risk, and attract new land lease partners. It’s not a new module, inverter, or racking — it’s an innovative approach to the vegetation design and management. Civil engineers working on LEED-certified building design have long known that the vegetation specified in a project can provide meaningful functional benefits, in addition to being a cost-effective way to gain points toward the standards. These innovations—using ecology to benefit technology—have now made their way into the solar industry in projects throughout the country.
Continue reading here.

 

Rob Davis, Director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy.
Posts by Rob Davis

 


Previously Posted

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a pollinator-friendly site.


Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Program for All Ages


Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program

This program is open to Nebraska homeowners, schools, businesses, parks, homeowner associations, farmers, acreage owners and community gardens.

The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification application form with complete requirements and lists of pollinator-friendly plants is available here.

Pollinator-friendly solar energy becomes the norm in Minnesota

By Elizabeth Dunbar, MPR News

The environmental benefits of Connexus Energy’s solar-plus-storage project are obvious enough, but this time of year, you’ll notice something more: prairie grasses and flowers planted under and around the sea of solar panels. Pollinator-friendly plantings at large solar energy sites have become common in Minnesota in recent years. Not only do they provide habitat for the bee and butterfly populations people have been concerned about, but they also promote soil health and probably even boost the solar panels’ electricity output on warm days. The National Renewable Energy Lab is using the Ramsey Renewable Station and a couple dozen other sites around the country to test that. Continue reading here.

 

Rob Davis, Director, Center for Pollinators in Energy
Posts by Rob Davis

 


Previously Posted

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

 

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program

This program is open to Nebraska homeowners, schools, businesses, parks, homeowner associations, farmers, acreage owners and community gardens.

The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification application form with complete requirements and lists of pollinator-friendly plants is available here.

Michigan opens 3.3M farmland acres to bee-friendly solar projects

By Catherine Morehouse, Associate Editor, Utility Dive

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced an executive decision that frees up 3.3 million acres of farmland protected under the state’s Farmland and Open Space Program to solar development. Previously, the land was allowed to host wind turbines and oil and gas exploration, but solar was historically restricted because it was considered to have a larger footprint, Tom Zimnicki, agriculture policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, told Utility Dive. But innovations in solar siting are making those installations more compatible with agricultural land, and under Whitmer’s decision, solar projects on protected farmland will be required to meet Michigan’s pollinator-friendly guidelines. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading 

About Catherine Morehouse

Before joining Industry Dive, Catherine was at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where she worked as News Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The Creightonian. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Creighton.

More articles by Catherine


About Rob Davis

Rob Davis directs the Center for Pollinators in Energy and also leads the Media & Innovation Lab at Fresh Energy in Minnesota. Top photo by Davis.

Posts by Rob Davis

 

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

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

‘If You Build It, They Will Come’: Saving Pollinator Habitat With Solar Power’s Help

By Madelyn Beck, NPR Illinois

Researchers at Argonne National Lab in Illinois and the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado think that a rapidly growing energy sector may be a key opportunity. Not only could pollinator habitat mitigate possible solar-field damage, like soil erosion and the loss of plant species, but could actively help fortify the soil and environment.

Rob Davis with Minnesota-based nonprofit Fresh Energy, which advocates for things like renewable energy, said putting pollinator habitat under solar panels could also be a boon for rural areas. He said the combination gives landowners another form of steady income and helps pollinate crops around the area. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis / Fresh Energy

SEIA Expands Leadership Team, Adding Vice President of Congressional Affairs and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced today a restructure and expansion of its leadership team. Erin Duncan, a proven legislative strategist and advocate, has been named the organization’s new vice president of congressional affairs and Katherine Gensler has been named vice president of regulatory affairs.

Duncan has extensive experience in Washington D.C. She joins SEIA after more than 11 years as a federal lobbyist for the National Education Association. Prior to that, she spent eight years working on Capitol Hill, including six years as legislative director for Rep. Tom Osborne,
(R-Nebraska). Read more here.

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT NEWS

Corporate Customers Smash Green Procurement Marks, Commercial Property Executives. One of Facebook’s deals in 2018 was part of a new PPA signed in March with Adobe for energy produced by the 320-megawatt Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm in Nebraska owned by Enel Green Power North America Inc. (EGPNA). 

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: ExxonMobil, Facebook headline a record-breaking fourth quarter,
GreenBiz. Not only was 2018 the biggest year on record for corporate renewable energy deals, with more than 6.5 gigawatts of contracts on the books, the furious pace of deal-making — and the creativity of the arrangements — barely slowed during the waning three months of the year. According to the official figures released in mid-December by the Business Renewables Center (BRC), part of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), the publicly announced capacity contracted over the past 12 months was 6.43 GW.

NEBRASKA CONSERVATION AWARD

Conservation efforts recognized at NRD banquet,
Norfolk Daily News. In the past seven years, the [Wiese family of Oakland] has planted more than 1,200 trees and shrubs and renovated a 2½ acre windbreak
system — all by hand. Besides trees, the family also put in solar panels to provide electricity to their home and outbuildings. Since putting in the solar panels, the family has noticed a decrease in their monthly electric bill and feel good about producing green energy on their acreage. They also have a large garden on which they do their own version of no-till.

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY

Nebraska clean energy plan focuses on wind, solar, efficiency, by Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star

Clean energy plan renamed: Due to a business having a similar name, the Husker Power Plan was renamed the Husker Energy Plan. The plan was revised August 28, 2018. To read the updated Husker Energy Plan and see the 16 partners that have endorsed it, visit: www.huskerenergyplan.org.

POLLINATOR-FRIENDLY SOLAR SITES

Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies, by Jodi Helmer, Scientific American
A trend of planting wildflowers on solar sites could maintain habitat for disappearing bees and butterflies.

Photo: Kearney’s solar farm consisting of approximately 23,000 panels on 53 acres located in the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing, is Nebraska’s largest ground-mounted solar project, to date. Credit: Developer, SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska

Another distinguishing feature of Kearney’s Solar Farm is that it is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

Previously posted links to information of potential interest to other Nebraska communities that have developed or plan to develop a solar farm:

In bid to help bees, Xcel to require vegetation disclosure in solar RFPs

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

IN NEBRASKA

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:

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Photo by Engie Distributed Solar

MORE RESOURCES

 LEGISLATION

WIND ENERGY & CROPS

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

Pollinator habitats: The bees’ knees of rural solar development

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Adding more solar “should have been a slam dunk” for Connexus Energy, a “hometown favorite” electric cooperative in Ramsey, Minnesota, said Rob Davis, a clean energy advocate who observed the siting process. But the utility’s motion to build was almost denied. Land is valuable, and “anytime you build anything anywhere there’s a neighbor, and that neighbor is going to have an opinion for better or worse,” said Davis, who directs the Center for Pollinators in Energy and also leads the Media & Innovation Lab at Fresh Energy in St. Paul, Minnesota. The saving grace? Pollinator experts and ecologists testified this wouldn’t be just any solar development — it would be pollinator-friendly, giving work opportunities to local seeders and apiarists as well as providing ecological benefits to the surrounding area. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Legislation

Windfall: Minnesota counties use wind tax money for roads, tax relief

Written by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Minnesota’s wind energy tax is helping rural counties hold the line on levy increases and pay for road repairs and other infrastructure projects. Revenue from the state’s wind energy tax has increased more than fivefold over the past decade to $12.7 million in 2018, according to Minnesota Department of Commerce. Wind farms larger than 12 MW pay $1.20 per MWh, while smaller farms pay just 36 cents per MWh. “Wind revenue is now a key source of income for many counties, relieving the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses,” said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman. Continue reading here.

Photo by Michael Janke of wind turbines on a Minnesota Farm

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST