- DOE has awarded $14 million for research projects to understand solar energy’s interaction with wildlife and surrounding ecosystem
- Projects will ascertain impacts of this clean energy technology and help prepare best practices that can help developers plan such infrastructure
- $8.8 million has been awarded for projects for wildlife research and $5.3 million for ecosystem research
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $14 million to projects that explore solar energy infrastructure’s interaction with the wildlife and ecosystem with an aim to minimize the impact of this growing renewable energy technology on the local environment and the species that thrive there.
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said this is the 1st ever DOE investment in tools to help increase adoption of ecosystem-friendly clean energy deployment that benefits native wildlife and ecosystems.
Solar’s pivotal role in America’s energy transition is non-negotiable at present as the country aims to decarbonize its grid by 2035, and become net zero by 2050. Projects that ascertain the connection between solar and its impact on the surrounding environment can help developers use best practices when building PV energy infrastructure.
Of the total amount awarded, $8.8 million has been granted to 6 projects of Cornell University, Renewable Energy Wildlife Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, University of Arkansas, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Wildlands Network.
Research subjects range from developing smart surveillance systems to monitor bird activity, build solar-wildlife data-sharing infrastructure, understand native vegetation management practices, assess avian reproductive success at solar facilities, quantify insect biodiversity on site and responses of other mammals to utility scale installations.
The remaining $5.3 million has been won by Argonne National Laboratory, Cornell University and Great Plains Institute whose projects will address ecosystem services to develop a national soil data collection at solar facilities, tools to assess the costs and benefits of PV on host communities, and creating an equitable ecosystem services framework based on priorities of the native population.
The DOE said these projects are part of its nearly $100 million renewable energy research portfolio that invests in innovative, cost-effective solutions to minimize wildlife impacts and maximize environmental benefits.
“As we take steps to combat the climate crisis, we must conduct more research to ensure that we can preserve and protect our ecosystems and wildlife as we transition to renewable energy,” said US Senator Richard Durbin (IL).
Details of the winning projects are available on the DOE’s website.