Feb 25, 2022
Did you know that pollinators such as honey bees are responsible for one-third of the food we eat? Bees and other pollinators play a critical yet understated role in our food production, pollinating numerous types of plants that support a wide variety of foods. In the US alone, bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops every year! Without bees and other pollinators, we wouldn’t have many of our favorite foods, such as almonds, apples, and berries.
Bees play such a vital role in our global food system. But in recent years, they have been dying at alarming rates. Last year, beekeepers in the US lost 45% of their managed honey bee colonies.
So, what can we do to help? One innovative solution is to use new solar farms as a safe space for bees by planting native wildflowers and crops under solar arrays. These native plants provide pollinators with access to much-needed nutrition and safe habitats. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and even birds all benefit from pollinator-friendly solar farms. Properly run, solar arrays have the potential to help support local biodiversity—and can even help increase pollinator populations fourfold!
Farmers and landowners across the country have already discovered the many benefits of pollinator-friendly solar farms, such as reduced soil erosion, cleaner groundwater, less water runoff, boosted crop yields, and, of course, healther pollinator populations—all while providing clean, pollution-free solar energy. It’s a win-win-win for pollinators, the planet, and all of us who will benefit from a thriving food system and reduced CO2 emissions.
Some new solar farms are even actively being used to raise bee colonies. In these cases, bee yards, or apiaries, are placed along the sides of solar arrays—optimizing the value of the wildflowers underneath the panels. Not only does this help bee and other pollinator populations thrive, but the resulting honey is also available to customers who want to support pollinator-friendly solar farms.
CleanChoice Energy, a renewable energy company that empowers people and businesses to cut emissions and live cleaner lives, is working to support the creation of new Community Solar farms or local solar facilities that allow residents, businesses, schools, municipalities, and other entities to subscribe to a solar array and receive bill credits on their utility bill. Community Solar farms offer consumers the chance to support solar projects while saving up to 10% on their utility costs.
CleanChoice Energy and our partner projects are establishing crucial pollinator habitats to fight the downward trend of pollinator populations and to promote higher crop yields. Several of the solar farms in our Community Solar program are pollinator-friendly. Two farms in Maryland—Metalmark and Checkerspot—are even named after local butterfly species!
Innovative ideas like pollinator-friendly Community Solar farms will be necessary in order to combat the climate crisis, promote healthy ecosystems, and preserve habitat for critical pollinator populations. If you’re interested in supporting regional Community Solar farms and helping create a clean, pollution-free environment, find your local solar farm and sign up today!