Can large solar energy growth regenerate the US’s iconic prairies?

Rising native vegetation beneath photo voltaic panels might profit prairie land and increase honeybee well being

Argonne Nationwide Laboratory

A THIRD of North America was as soon as an ocean of grass stretching from what’s now central Canada to Mexico. In the present day, virtually all of that unique habitat, known as prairie, is gone, ploughed for agriculture, paved over for cities and roads, or taken over by encroaching timber and shrubs. Most native prairie remnants are unmarked and hidden to the untrained eye – at the very least till the spring bloom reveals what grows there.

So, it was a shock for Danish vitality firm Ørsted to be taught that the sphere by which it deliberate to construct a large photo voltaic facility was among the many largest areas of intact prairie left in Texas. It was additionally a “wake-up name” for conservationists, says Kirsti Harms on the Native Prairies Affiliation of Texas. “All of a sudden there are millions of acres going into these photo voltaic tasks.” Unlikely because it appears, this could possibly be good for each clear vitality and biodiversity.

Speedy improvement of renewable vitality amenities, comparable to photo voltaic farms and wind generators, is important to chop greenhouse fuel emissions and struggle local weather change. However the business’s demand for rural land – what Tracy Stone-Manning, director of the US Bureau of Land Administration, calls “the best land-use transformation in trendy historical past” – has generated intense opposition amongst native communities throughout the US. Amid this, researchers and a few builders, together with Ørsted, are in search of methods to make amenities that deliver advantages not solely to rural populations however landscapes too.

The one which has maybe gained most traction is the …

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