Tag Archives: pollinator-friendly solar sites

Solar Industry Releases New Framework to Help Community Solar Siting

SEIA News Release, February 28, 2022

Washington D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is releasing a new report to aid policymakers in siting community solar projects. Well-designed community solar projects can result in increased crop and clean energy production, the report shows. Community solar projects can also result in other benefits, such as protecting soils and providing habitat for many important species. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

National Community Solar Partnership Aims To Reach 5 Million and Beyond, NREL News Release

Register to become a member of NCSP.

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy

Opponents make last attempt to convince Lancaster County Board to deny solar farm permit

By Margaret Reist, Lincoln Journal Star

Residents who live near a proposed solar farm east of Lincoln turned out in force Tuesday to make one last appeal to the Lancaster County Board to deny — or significantly modify — a special permit allowing a Chicago company’s project to move forward.

The special permit — which commissioners will vote on at a Dec. 16 staff meeting — would allow Ranger Power to develop a solar farm on about 1,430 acres of land stretching from 148th and 190th streets and from O Street to Havelock Avenue. Continue reading here. 

Photo: Virginia pollinator-friendly solar farm demonstrating tree screening surrounding it.

FEATURED 2021 NEBRASKA WIND & SOLAR CONFERENCE VIDEO & SLIDES

It All Begins With Landowners

  • Moderator, Dave Levy: Partner, Baird Holm. He is representing Ranger Power in the proposed Salt Creek Solar project. 
  • Sean Harris: Vice President of Development, Ranger Power.
  • Mike Zakrzewski: A third-generation Holt County, Nebraska farmer who is among landowners hosting Grande Prairie Wind Farm turbines in return for annual lease payments.
  • John Hansen: President of the Nebraska Farmers Union and Chair of the Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference planning committee. As he states in the video, he is “a landowner in a potential wind project.”

Click here to view the video and here for the PowerPoint slides.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

                     

Department of Energy Photos: As everyone likely knows by now, a growing number of landowners and communities are collaborating with solar developers, local urban and rural food producers and utility companies on initiatives to co-locate solar gardens and farms with specialty crops, including those grown for the organic food markets, and / or developing pollinator-friendly habitats in partnership with local beekeepers, increasing the land’s productivity and economic value while improving the soil’s health.

Bees, sheep, crops: Solar developers tout multiple benefits

By John Flesher and Tammy Webber, Associated Press, ABC News

MONTICELLO, Minnesota — Silflower was among native plants that blanketed the vast North American prairie until settlers developed farms and cities. Nowadays confined largely to roadsides and ditches, the long-stemmed cousin of the sunflower may be poised for a comeback, thanks to solar energy.

Researchers are growing silflower at nine solar installations in the Minneapolis area, testing its potential as an oilseed crop. The deep-rooted perennial also offers forage for livestock and desperately needed habitat for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy

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CLIMATE CHANGE IN WYOMING & THE STATE’S ECONOMY

Wyoming climate data holds ominous clues about life, economy, by Dustin Bleizeffer, Energy News Network

This story is part of a WyoFile series examining climate change and what it means for the quality of life in Wyoming. It is supported by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative’s journalism fellowship program. Read about Wyoming climate trends here, and read about a Wyoming coal community in transition here.

WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

IN NEBRASKA

Do you know how many tons of coal Nebraska imports from Wyoming annually? See Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) 2019 Data / February 1, 2021 Update here.

 FROM FARM PROGRESS

According to a fact sheet released by the House Agriculture Committee, the Build Back Better Budget Reconciliation bill will make timely investments that will “provide resources to mitigate climate change, improve quality of life in rural communities and commit millions of dollars to agricultural education across the country.”

On June 24, the U.S. Senate adopted S. 1251, the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Co-sponsored by 54 senators, including Nebraska’s Sen. Deb Fischer, S. 1251 seeks to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to participate in voluntary carbon credit markets, and to get a fair share of the carbon credit revenue they generate. If adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by the president, S. 1251 would go a long way in facilitating effective producer participation in U.S. carbon markets. 

County Board will allow solar panels on acreage ‘outlots’ despite homeowners’ objections

By Margaret Reist, Lincoln Journal Star

The zoning changes adopted last year include some of the most-stringent tree screening requirements. – David Levy, attorney representing Ranger Power


A change in Lancaster County’s zoning laws will now allow a New York-based company planning the state’s largest solar farm east of Lincoln to apply for a special permit to expand its footprint farther east. The Lancaster County Board voted 3-1 last week to allow solar panels on outlots — areas in acreage developments that can’t be developed and, until Tuesday’s vote, had to be used only for agricultural purposes. Now they can also be used for solar panels. Continue reading here.

Image: Example of tree screening at a pollinator-friendly solar site in Virginia.

Lincoln-Lancaster County 2050 Comprehensive Plan
A draft of the plan will be released Monday, September 13. 

In the 2040 Comprehensive Plan: Energy & Utilities, Chapter 11

Largest agrivoltaic research project in U.S. advances renewable energy while empowering local farmers

Case study contributed to Solar Power World by HansenRE.

The global installed capacity of agrivoltaics, or the co-development of the same area of land for both solar power and agriculture, has grown rapidly from about 5 MW in 2012 to approximately 2,900 MW in 2020. One of the largest driving factors for this growth is the need to continue to build solar projects to mitigate climate change in the face of dwindling available non-agricultural land. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), by 2030, utility-scale solar could cover almost 2 million acres of land in the United States. A recent Oregon State University study also estimates that converting just 1% of American farmland to agrivoltaics would not only meet the nation’s renewable energy targets, but also save water and create a sustainable, long-term food system. Additionally, agrivoltaics have been shown to increase crop production, solar panel efficiency as well as farmer income. Continue reading here.

Photo by Byron Kominek, owner of Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder, Colorado: A beehive operated by Best Bees and sponsored by Google located at Jack’s Solar Garden. Best Bees installs and maintains honeybee hives on commercial and residential properties across the U.S. and seeks to improve bee health and expand bee populations.

Bee Better Certification Program is Buzzing on U.S. Farms, Local Grocers

Posted by Jocelyn Benjamin, USDA Public Affairs Specialist in Conservation
U.S. Department of Agriculture Blog

Collaborations between farmers and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to create better landscapes for bees and other pollinators have been going on for several years. The recently launched Bee Better Certification program funded through the NRCS Conservation Innovations Grant program has gained interest from big names in retail.

The Bee Better Certification program certifies the use of pollinator-friendly conservation practices on farms. After the farmer is Bee Better certified, they can use the Bee Better seal on their product packaging, giving consumers the option to support farms that are supporting bees. Continue reading here.

Resources for Farmers Who Want to Create A Pollinator-Friendly Solar Site 

How-To Program For All Ages For Creating A Certified Pollinator Habitat

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program

This program is open to Nebraska homeowners, schools, businesses, parks, homeowner associations, farmers, acreage owners and community gardens. Winter is an excellent time to begin planning a habitat. 

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

Amplifying Clean Energy With Conservation Part One: Pollinator-Friendly Solar

A Report by Cody Smith, Center for Rural Affairs

Throughout the Midwest region of the U.S., farmers, schools, and small businesses have been on the frontline of solar energy adoption. Collectively, states in the Midwest employ approximately 36,605 workers in the solar industry with 3,118.67 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity. These jobs include workers in the installation, manufacturing, and sale of solar energy systems of all sizes. These economic windfalls come as many cities, counties, and states across the U.S. are taking advantage of affordable renewable energy sources, including solar energy. Access the report here.

Solar Farm Field Days

By Rob Davis, Director of Fresh Energy’s Center for Pollinators in Energy

In early August, I spent three days from pre-dawn to near-dusk out in the field with colleagues and collaborators capturing the best of Minnesota’s pollinator-friendly solar arrays. The summer sun presents an amazing opportunity for photos and first-hand experiences that tell the story of how low-impact PV solar designs and management—including pollinator-friendly ground cover—are already implemented on projects ranging from utility-scale down to community-scale. Fresh Energy’s Center for Pollinators in Energy will be sharing more photos and even video from these field days in the weeks and months ahead, but here are some informal behind the scenes photographs that I couldn’t resist sharing. Read more here.

Plot Brewing To Blanket US In Solar Panels + Pollinator-Friendly Plants

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

It started as a trickle and now the floodgates are open. Solar arrays that once sat on barren ground are now festooned with plants that attract bees, birds, and butterflies. Even the US Energy Department is getting into the act. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four newly minted solar power plants that have built-in benefits for pollinators, too. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Power, plants: Seed mixes and ag innovation for PV solar, Solar Builder article by Rob DavisDirector of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts farmers and other landowners will lease 2-3 million acres of land for ground-mounted solar arrays by 2030, a 10-fold increase from 2020. This rapid bloom in leasing land to produce solar energy isn’t just a lifeline for farmers looking to stabilize on-farm income, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create habitat at scale to help species critical to agriculture and ecosystem health. Climate change and loss of habitat pose significant threats to honey bees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators. A recent global analysis found that 40 percent of pollinator species may be at risk of extinction in the coming years. 

MULTI-GIGAWATT PARTNERSHIP

Engie and Hannon Armstrong Form Multi-Gigawatt US Renewables Partnership, Greentech Media The portfolio will stretch across five states and encompass both wind and solar projects. Most of the power the Engie-Hannon portfolio produces will be sold to companies looking to increase their renewable electricity, such as T-Mobile and Amazon. 

TRI-STATE NEWS 

  • A power switch in Colorado, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
    At the stroke of midnight, Colorado’s Delta-Montrose Electric Association officially became independent of Tri-State Generation and Transmission. The electrical cooperative in west-central Colorado is at least $26 million poorer. That was the cost of getting out of its all-requirements for wholesale supplies from Tri-State 20 years early. But Delta-Montrose expects to be richer in coming years as local resources, particularly photovoltaic solar, get developed with the assistance of the new wholesale provider Guzman Energy.
  • Tri-State: Moving a cooperative power provider from coal to clean energy, by Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative. This article summarizes the key developments over the last few years that led Tri-State to begin a transition away from its reliance on coal, and was first published as a contribution to Energy-Democracy.net

BANK OF AMERICA  

Duke Energy, Bank of America partner on Triad solar farm, Winston Salem Journal
Monday’s joint announcement marks a step toward achieving Bank of America’s goal of “being carbon neutral and utilizing 100% renewable electricity,” bank executive Andrew Plepler said in a written statement. 

MORE ON WHO’S BEHIND ANTI-NET-METERING FERC PETITION

AUSTRALIA

Dual-use solar farms welcome nature back to the land

By Jesse Klein, GreenBiz

Surrounding Clif Bar’s 300,000-foot bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho is a five-acre solar array. Instead of gray stones, brown dirt or a green so neon it looks fake, the panels are surrounded by yellows, pinks and lush natural hazels. The reflective solar panels are nestled in a bed of native flowering plants that support pollinators, conserve water and store carbon in the healthy topsoil. This is the emerging model for ground-mounted solar, one that welcomes nature back to the land. Read more here.

Photo by Prairie Restorations showing a 40-kilowatt pollinator-friendly community solar farm in Duluth, Minnesota.

Previously Posted: Solar and pollinators: a photo essay, PV Magazine
All the solar installations shown in this photo essay by Rob Davis of Fresh Energy have a mix of flowering species in sufficient diversity, or covering a sufficient portion of the project, to meet pollinator-friendly standards created by entomologists.

BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS WITH TRACKING

ROOFTOP SOLAR PERMITTING STUDY

US rooftop solar permitting process takes less time, but depends on state – study, Renewables Now. Berkeley Lab found that 50 days is the typical solar permit duration at the median. But there were significant differences, with half of the total cases studied taking less than 27 days or more than 96 days.

SITING RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS – NYSERDA

NYSERDA moves to launch program targeting brownfields and other less desirable sites for renewables, Utility Dive

CLEAN ENERGY & ECONOMIC RECOVERY

IRS SAFE HARBOR EXTENSION 

IRS Extends Construction Safe Harbor For Renewable Energy Projects, The National Law Review

CONSUMER-OWNED RENEWABLE ENERGY 

The U.K. will soon be home to its first consumer-owned wind farm, CNBC

PENN STATE NEWS

Renewable energy, sustainability systems program addresses growing need
Penn State’s redesigned renewable energy and sustainability systems program, offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus and taught by faculty from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, aims to meet the needs of professionals in business and government. The graduate-level program consists of a 33-credit master of professional studies degree and two 12-credit graduate certificates in solar energy or sustainability management and policy.

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