Pollinator Friendly Solar

Did you know that 80% of the world’s flowering plants and 35% of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators? These tenacious insects carry pollen from plant to plant and provide us with nutrients that are vital to our planet and food web. Unfortunately, humans have been eliminating many of the flowering plant species essential for pollinators’ survival, causing pollinator populations to decline at an alarming rate.

Nexamp is reversing this trend by being stewards of the land where our solar farms operate. So, here’s the buzz on pollinators and the work we’re doing to help these needed organisms.

What are pollinators?

Dozens of organisms can be classified as pollinators, including bees, butterflies, flies, beetles, and even birds! Pollinators travel from plant to plant, exchanging pollen, which spurs flowers, fruits, and seeds.

Why are pollinators important?

Pollinators touch nearly every part of our diets and ensure that the plants we rely on for food can bear fruit. Carnivores, pollinators are important for your diet too! The meat that we consume comes from animals that have grazed on pollinator plants throughout their lifetime, like alfalfa, one of the primary foods for livestock.

Beyond the food chain, pollinators help flowering plants reproduce. In turn, these plants help reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere while producing oxygen.

How can solar help pollinators?

Ground-mounted solar farms are a significant part of the new energy economy due to the growing economic need, the threat of climate change, and a desire to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Despite their positive impact, some communities have voiced understandable concern about how much land is being used for these solar projects and questioned if they are a productive use of agricultural land.

Fortunately, Nexamp is incorporating agrivoltaics, the practice of using one plot of land for solar energy generation and agricultural efforts at the same time, on select solar farms. By integrating pollinator-friendly habitats, we are able to expand the use of the land and help create an environment for pollinators to thrive. Botanists, engineers, and agriculturalists can design pollinator-friendly seed mixes of low-growing flowers and native vegetation around and underneath solar arrays while incorporating taller species of vegetation on the outside boundaries of the solar fields.

Pollinators and Solar

At Nexamp, land management is a top priority when we develop our solar farms. We support and encourage integrating pollinator seed mix into our solar farms. Some pollinator-friendly species exist as the underlying vegetation at our operating projects in Hadley, MA, and Whately, MA. Furthermore, Nexamp has planted similar vegetation at several other Massachusetts projects in Whately, Wales, and Plainfield. Pollinator species include Black-eyed Susans, Butterfly Milkweed, Early Goldenrod, and Heath Aster.

Not only is native vegetation good for pollinators, compared to gravel or turf, but deep-rooted native plants also capture rainwater trickling off solar panels, guiding the water right down into the Earth’s natural aquifers, breaking down compressed soil while adding organic matter and cultivating soil quality over the lifetime of the solar project.

We’re excited about how pollinators can make our solar farms more environmentally friendly and help us continue to support the earth, and we’re always open to suggestions from the public about how to improve the incorporation of native species to provide the greatest benefit and ensure a sustainable environment for surrounding plants, local pollinator friends, and our planet. Want more buzz on Nexamp solar farms? Check out our Instagram to see our pollinators in action.