Powerful benefits for food, soil and water
Solar energy offers much more than just clean, affordable power for homes and businesses. It also offers real benefits for food, farms, and local land and water.
At OneEnergy, we believe in conscientious design. That’s why we integrate beautiful, abundant native pollinator habitat into our solar designs.
Pollinator habitats are meadows of native grasses, flowers, and shrubs. As these meadows mature, they sustain native bees, birds, and butterflies that provide a powerful boost for local farmers and ecosystems.
“OneEnergy is committed to integrating beautiful, deep-rooted pollinator habitat into all our solar sites. It’s yet another way our projects benefit local agriculture, crop yields, wildlife, soil, and water quality–while making clean, renewable energy accessible to everyone.” – Bill Eddie, CEO, OneEnergy Renewables
A Certified Leader in Pollinator Friendly Solar
Our team developed the first pollinator-friendly project in Maryland to exceed the state’s standard, Baker Point Solar in Frederick, Maryland. In addition to producing clean, renewable energy (enough to power the equivalent of more than 2,000 homes), Baker Point incorporates pollinator-friendly habitat, including nine flowering plants and grasses that bloom continuously spring through fall.
This native pollinator habitat provides critical pollen sources to an on-site apiary of 25 beehives, as well as for other native pollinators, such as butterflies. Once its deep root systems have taken hold, the eco-system at Baker Point will be self-seeding, have a low maintenance carbon footprint (mowing not required), be drought tolerant, and provide uninterrupted months of habitat for transient and area pollinators.
The Power of Pollinators
Remarkably, pollinators are responsible for 1 of every 3 bites of food we eat, contributing $24 billion to the American economy. From apples to squash, the produce we see at our local grocery stores and farmer’s markets is brought to us in part by pollinators. Squash farmers, for instance, can experience an 80 percent crop yield boost when their crops are exposed to honeybees and native pollinators.
Consider the beloved Bumble Bee. Its recent addition to the endangered species list underscores the need for vast areas of nectar- and pollen-providing flowers for food, grassy and earthen nesting sites, and undisturbed soil for hibernating queens. Our solar sites add acres of flowers, grasses, and habitat for the bee and butterfly population, and allow the soil to rest for up to 25 years, providing exceptional nesting and winter habitat.
The rapid decline in pollinator populations, however, places added stress on our food supply. By integrating new acres of pollinator habitat around our solar designs, we aim to support our food supply and our farmers’ bottom line.
One recent study showed pollinators can increase soybean yields by up to 18%, and the National Renewable Energy Lab predicts that solar has the potential to create 3,500 square kilometers of pollinator habitat in the future. As the Argonne National Laboratory puts it,
“By increasing the ability of pollinators to pollinate adjacent agricultural fields, solar-sited pollinator habitat may boost farmer’s crop yields and make solar farms a more welcome neighbor to agricultural farms.”
Solar, soil, and water
Pollinator habitat also benefits the soil and water surrounding our solar projects. Deeply rooted plants keep soil intact, which reduces runoff and protects nearby streams and waterways. Put another way, our pollinator-friendly solar projects are like cover crops, protecting and enriching local soil while reducing pollution and erosion to the benefit of nearby streams, rivers, and bays.
“That dense, deep vegetation holds soil in place, preventing it from eroding from wind and water….When we put in practices like this we restore our natural ecological processes and patterns. We provide a connection to our natural heritage.” – Claire Lindahl, CEO, Soil and Water Conservation Society on pollinator-friendly solar.
Honey: The New Solar Startup
A sweet new business idea is buzzing in the meadows around our solar projects: solar honey. With consumers demanding more locally-grown produce, OneEnergy is hiring beekeepers near our solar projects to manage hives on site. These beekeepers provide year-round care for the hives and then harvest and sell the locally-grown honey, creating a new income stream in the communities in which we work. Solar Honey is even making its way into beers and ciders across the country. With OneEnergy’s projects, perhaps one day Solar Honey beer will make its way to a store near you!