Solar and Monarch Habitat: A Win Win in the Land of Milkweed and Honey

OneEnergy Renewables’ Eric Udelhofen and Fresh Energy’s Rob Davis led a recent webinar focused on the science and safety of photovoltaic solar and the growing trend of planting pollinator habitat under and around ground-mounted solar panels. Enjoy watching here.

In 2016 alone, nearly 2,500 acres of solar sites in Minnesota and Wisconsin were seeded with millions of native flowers and grasses including black-eyed susans, side-oats grama, purple prairie clover, butterfly milkweed, and calico aster.

Eric and Rob talk about the public and environmental benefits provided by pollinator-friendly solar sites, as well as standard practices of pollinator meadow management on solar sites. They review the benefits to solar project owners over the long-term, including reduced maintenance expenses, improved stormwater infiltration, and greater community acceptance.

Eric Udelhofen, director of project development at OneEnergy Renewables provides an overview of what the solar project development process entails and insight into what an installation actually looks like. Rob Davis, director of Fresh Energy’s media and innovation lab, discusses their pioneering work in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Bee Lab, Monarch Joint Venture, the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. Fresh Energy has been a leader in establishing standards for what constitutes “pollinator friendly solar,” including the ongoing bipartisan and agricultural community successes in support of statewide standards for vegetation on solar sites.

The webinar was hosted by the Monarch Joint Venture, a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration.

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