Bees and Solar Panels

This month Steve Levitsky and colleagues make a good case for “pollinator-friendly” Photovoltaic installations. This is a pretty simple case to make. A solar array provides power and cash income, which is especially attractive for land that isn’t as desirable for crops or other uses.

Solar panels take up space and must not be shaded, so that land partly out of use.  But it can still grow wild flowers that don’t shade the panes, and thereby offer forage and sanctuary for bees and other pollinators.

The authors point out that planting wild flowers usually prevents erosion and runoff better than gravel or turf grass, which can improve the surrounding land as well. This could turn a biologically neutral area into an asset for the whole farm.

Regulators in Maryland and Minnesota already support this approach, and have established guidelines for “pollinator-friendly” seed mixes. “Vetted by several of the nation’s top entomologists, these standards play an important role in making sure that when a site is promoted as beneficial to pollinators, it delivers on those commitments.”

This is obviously a good idea.  I suspect that similar arguments could be made for some wind power installations.

This kind of development doesn’t address all the dangers for threatened pollinators, especially pesticides and other human introduced chemicals. But one thing at a time.

Phot credit: Courtesy of Fresh Energy

  1. Steve Levitsky, Brian Riddle, Dennis van Engelsdorp, and Albert Todd The business case for pollinator-friendly solar sites. GreeBiz.May 15 2017, https://www.greenbiz.com/article/pollinator-friendly-solar-sites

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