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New Plan to save Bees By Using Solar Panel Sites Across Country

January 14, 2018 By Pat Smiles

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New Plan to save Bees By Using Solar Panel Sites Across Country

Can planting different kinds of wildflowers around the areas of solar sites help curb the serious decline of the bees and butterflies? In a recent article from Scientific American by Jodi Holmes, the article is presenting this as a sound and possibly long-lasting answer to our present bee crisis.

By planting wildflowers at solar sites as was done at Pine Gate Renewables solar site located in southwestern Oregon. In 2017 the company started on what was previously a former cattle pasture to plant some 41 acres of “a colorful riot of natural wildflowers”. The results were not merely aesthetic, but it attracted bees, butterflies and other pollinators. A number of solar farms around the country have now adopted this plan and it is seen to be a way “ to reverse the worrying declines in bees” that we have seen in recent years.

According to the United Nations, more than half of the native bee species in the U.S. have dropped since 2005 with almost 25% now at risk of distinction. The North American Monarch butterfly population has now declined by 68%. Suspected factors include climate change, pesticide use, parasites, and a shrinking habitat.

Scott McArt an entomologist at Cornell University says, “If we can create some habitat where there wasn’t habitat before, like on solar farms, we can likely have a positive impact.” More pros for the new habitats at solar sites comes from Lee Walston an ecologist at Argonne National Laboratory. He says a field of wildflowers requires less mowing and pesticides than conventional grass and gravel absorbs heat, whereas plants help keep solar panels cool thus improving energy efficiency. A definite win-win all around.

Solar Energy helps the birds and bees!


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