To ambitiously reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must get carbon out of our energy systems. Carbon sequestration can help us do that.
Solar is blooming in Minnesota—and as ground-mounted solar sites spring up around the state, most include an important feature: pollinator habitat. Beekeepers are jumping on the opportunity.
Read the Winter 2017 issue of Energy Matters – Fresh Energy’s print journal.
2016 was the first year of Minnesota’s solar bloom — but there’s plenty more to come. While even more solar sites are planned to be built in the years ahead, tens of millions of native flowers and short-growing meadow grasses will be taking root under and around the panels. Look for black-eyed susans to develop faster than the rest, followed by purple prairie clover, partridge pea, butterfly weed, and more.
“Butterflies, birds, and bees find a haven at Connexus” proclaimed the email recently sent to all members of Connexus Energy, Minnesota’s largest customer-owned electric cooperative. Connexus’ community solar garden hasn’t just been popular with its members — the site is also benefitting Minnesota’s bumblebees, honeybees, and foraging song birds — and is on the leading edge of a rapidly growing trend.
When investing $1-$2 million per acre in solar panels, one tends to focus on the benefits directly generated by the new hardware — 100% fuel-free energy with no moving parts. However—simply by using the right seed mix—each of these sites can also provide significant agricultural benefits related to storm water, soil, and crop pollination.