Solar Synergy program assists solar developers in designing pollinator habitat


The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund Solar Synergy helps solar developers strategically design and monitor high-quality pollinator habitats within utility-scale renewable energy projects.

The non-profit has garnered financial support from corporations and foundations, enabling the program to be being offered at no additional cost to the developers. The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund works alongside partner Monarch Joint Venture.

“Pollinators are an important keystone species that are in dire need of habitat,” says Peter Berthelsen, executive director of The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund. “Through this program, we’ll have an incredible opportunity to work collaboratively with solar developers to not only increase pollinator health and habitat, but to also deliver a set of significant environmental and sustainability benefits that include carbon sequestration, increased soil health, better water quality, and more.”

The new Solar Synergy program consists of uniquely designed outcomes that deliver four key benefits to renewable energy projects:

1. High-value pollinator seed mixtures: Two different seed mixtures will be used on each project: one for use within the solar array area that is designed to work with each project’s solar panel heights, and one used in the buffer, or open areas of the project, designed with 40+ different native wildflower species.

2. Extensive monitoring of pollinator health: The Monarch Joint Venture will collect baseline and ongoing pollinator and habitat information for Solar Synergy program sites on an annual basis.

3. Carbon sequestration documentation: Baseline and ongoing carbon readings will be used to document carbon sequestration gains. The program will then help connect purchasers of potential carbon credits to each project. The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund has entities waiting in line to purchase carbon credits that may become available on the sites.

4. Increased opportunity for honey production: The Solar Synergy program will be producing a large amount of high-quality pollinator habitat on project sites, offering a unique opportunity to connect solar project developers to commercial beekeepers. Increasing beekeepers’ access to high-quality pollinator habitat can create opportunities to increase the production of U.S.-sourced honey.

Solar paired with pollinator plantings has been found to be a win-win proposition at sites across the country. In New York state, for example, the Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA) has a pollinator-friendly solar project that was developed by Sol Systems. The 29 acres facility was planted with a seed mixture of pollinator plants, which will create new habitats for local pollinators, boosting the surrounding ecosystem.

In Maryland, Perdue Farms has a pollinator-friendly ground cover at a solar installation located at the company’s headquarters. Planting took place in 2018 under the guidance of the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund and Fresh Energy, a catalyzer of pollinator-friendly solar.

Developers interested in the Solar Synergy program can find more information here.

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