Using clean energy has many positive benefits for our environment and society. Solar energy, for example, is renewable, so we don’t need to worry about running out of it or depending on world politics for a continuous supply. It also emits no harmful greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. Combined with other clean energy solutions like electric vehicles, it provides optimal functionality and the least harm to the environment. One benefit that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention is how solar farms can help save the bees.
Why are bees important for the environment?
Bees play an essential role in our survival. About 80% of the plants on earth require pollination, and we rely upon bees to do most of that work. Unfortunately, pollinators’ population has declined dramatically over the past decade or more due to climate change, pesticide poisoning, habitat reduction, and other factors. Without sufficient populations of pollinators, namely bees, our food supply will be insufficient to support life. Fortunately, some of these problems can be alleviated when combined with our desire to generate more solar energy.
How can solar farms help save the bees?
Solar energy from the sun is collected using extensive panels. A solar farm often comprises several acres of land where row upon row of these panels are propped up to soak in the sun’s rays. Little of the land is disturbed by the panels’ presence, allowing landowners to use the farm for multiple purposes. Some solar farms are choosing to use this land to promote bee populations. One such farm is near Eagle Point, Oregon.
Eagle Point Solar is a solar farm owned and operated by Pine Gate Renewables. The solar farm opened in 2018 and was the first in the United States to feature an apiary, hosting 57 honeybee hives. By placing the hives on the property and covering the ground with pollinator-friendly wildflowers and native vegetation, bees have a safe place to live, grow, and thrive.
Bee Culture Magazine covered the story of the farm’s opening in 2018. It noted the importance of managing both needs for energy production and bee promotion for optimal success with this quote from Rob Davis, Director of Fresh Energy:
“It does obviously recognize that these are managed landscapes and that the site is first and foremost an energy-generation facility,” he said. “But within that context, there are significant ways to manage the vegetation so that it’s incrementally and meaningfully beneficial to honeybees and all the native pollinators and wildlife.”
Today this 41-acre solar farm provides 13MW of renewable energy to the PacifiCorp grid. That’s enough energy to support about 1,600 homes in Southern Oregon.
Do you want to learn more about innovations in clean energy?
The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is to enhance the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!
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