Study Finds Native Habitat at Solar Sites Helps Pollinators Thrive

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted a five-year study at two solar sites in southern Minnesota to understand the ecological value of PV solar energy sites planted with native grasses and wildflowers. By the end of the field surveys, the team observed increases for all habitat and biodiversity metrics. There was an increase in native plant species diversity and flower abundance. In addition, the team observed increases in the abundance and diversity of native insect pollinators and agriculturally beneficial insects. “This research highlights the relatively rapid insect community responses to habitat restoration at solar energy sites,” said Lee Walston, an Argonne landscape ecologist and environmental scientist who was lead author of the study. ​”It demonstrates that, if properly sited, habitat-friendly solar energy can be a feasible way to safeguard insect populations and can improve the pollination services in adjacent agricultural fields.”
Related NCAT resource: AgriSolar Clearinghouse