Ecological restoration on large scale commercial Solar Development: Opportunities for habitat restoration and agriculture

Mickey Marcus

Publication Date:

Renewable energy sources, including large scale commercial solar development, are quickly becoming integrated into electrical energy networks world-wide. Many of these solar projects are sites on degraded lands, sanitary landfills, former quarry and mine sites, or other degraded habitats that offer opportunities for ecological restoration and restoration as agricultural sites. This paper describes opportunities and the methods we and others have used to provide ecological restoration and improved stormwater management on large scale commercial solar renewable energy projects. We also provide examples of how solar energy and agriculture may be integrated to provide dual uses of energy and food production. When feasible, it is preferable to site new solar projects on previously developed or degraded locations. Within these previously developed sites, both internal and external restoration of grasslands and ecosystem habitat may be incorporated into the solar restoration plan to improve ecological conditions. For instance, a solar project was built on a former airport. The paved runways were removed, and planted with native grasses, thereby creating new habitat. Solar projects may be seeded with a combination of native grasses and wildflowers to control erosion, promote pollinators, and to provide habitat for wildlife. The inter-cropping of agricultural crops may be compatible with solar projects, as is the ability to graze livestock or maintain bee colonies. Examples of agricultural intercropping with solar projects is provided using examples from the United States and other parts of the world. Worldwide examples are provided of ecological restoration of degraded habitats at commercial solar sites.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration