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Dual Land Use for Solar Farms and Pollinators

Updated: Jan 12

Dual Land Use for Solar Farms and Pollinators

Many landowners participate in a type of dual land-use solar project that utilizes both solar panels and the ground underneath. This ensures that landowners don’t have to lose full usage of their land when they have a solar farm. Growing pollinator-friendly plants is one type of planting technique that we will delve into. Planting pollinator plants around solar farms can provide multiple benefits, such as supporting local ecosystems, promoting biodiversity, and enhancing the efficiency of solar panels through temperature regulation.

When selecting plants for solar farms, it’s essential to choose species that are native to the region and well-suited to the local climate. LandGate provides landowners across the United States with a comprehensive property report of their land and its resources. Some of these data points include historical crop data and soil data.

What is pollinator-friendly solar?

Pollinator-friendly solar, also known as pollinator-friendly solar farms, agrivoltaics (agriculture + solar voltaic), or solar sanctuaries, refers to a design and management approach for solar energy installations. This approach would incorporate pollinator habitat and support native biodiversity. Pollinator-friendly solar seeks to create a mutually beneficial relationship between solar energy production and the conservation of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. The traditional approach to solar farms involves clearing the land of vegetation and installing solar panels on barren ground. In contrast, pollinator-friendly solar farms aim to create a more ecologically friendly environment by integrating native plantings that provide food and habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. Key features of pollinator-friendly solar farms include:

  • Native Plantings: Planting a diverse mix of native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees around and beneath the solar panels. These plants provide nectar, pollen, and host plants for pollinators, supporting their life cycles and contributing to local biodiversity.

  • Habitat Creation: Designing the solar farm to mimic natural ecosystems, which encourages the establishment of diverse plant and animal communities. This includes providing nesting sites and water sources for pollinators and other wildlife.

  • Reduced Mowing: Allowing vegetation to grow and limiting mowing frequency to support wildflower growth and pollinator forage. Tall grasses and flowering plants can provide essential resources for pollinators and create a more natural habitat.

  • Pesticide-Free Zones: Avoiding or minimizing pesticide use on or near the solar farm to protect pollinators and other beneficial insects from harmful chemicals.

  • Monitoring and Research: Conduct ongoing monitoring and research to assess the impact of the solar farm on pollinators and refine management practices for better conservation outcomes.

What are the Benefits of Dual Land Use Solar Farms?

Given the global decline of pollinators and the importance of their role in ecosystems and agriculture, pollinator-friendly solar farms represent a proactive and innovative approach to both clean energy production and biodiversity conservation. By combining renewable energy generation with habitat restoration and pollinator support, these projects showcase how human activities can coexist more harmoniously with nature. Dual-use solar farms can become a center for pollinators and improve local ecosystems.

  • Enhanced Pollination: The presence of pollinator-friendly habitat can increase the abundance and diversity of pollinators, leading to improved pollination services for nearby crops and wild plants.

  • Biodiversity Conservation: Creating suitable habitats for pollinators also supports other wildlife species, contributing to overall biodiversity and ecological resilience.

  • Improved Solar Panel Efficiency: Some studies suggest that maintaining vegetation around solar panels can help regulate temperatures, potentially improving the efficiency of the panels.

  • Positive Public Relations: Pollinator-friendly solar projects demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, which can enhance a company's or community's public image.

Solar and agriculture being paired together can also include farming bees to promote the restoration of the declining bee population. Large-scale solar farms could promote long-term benefits not only for solar development and energy production but also for local pollinators in the area. By incorporating a bee farm into the solar farm's design, you can help preserve and restore habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. Having a bee farm (apiculture) alongside a solar farm can have several benefits, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between renewable energy production and pollinator conservation. Bee farms enhance biodiversity and support local ecosystems by providing habitat and food sources for bees and other pollinators. This, in turn, promotes better crop pollination for nearby farmland and wild plant populations. Bees play a crucial role in pollinating many crops, and having a bee farm adjacent to a solar farm can offer nearby farmers improved pollination services, potentially increasing crop yields and quality. Combining solar panels with beekeeping optimizes land use, making the most of available space. The solar panels provide shade and shelter for the bees, while the bees help maintain the vegetation around the panels, reducing the need for mowing or herbicides.

Evaluating Potential Dual Land Use Value for Solar Energy

Landowners who are interested in this type of solar project being a part of their property can start by generating a free property report from LandGate. There are quite a few factors that affect the potential solar farm lease value, such as proximity to electrical infrastructure and the topography of the land.

Once you discover your land’s value for a potential solar lease from LandGate’s property report, you can list your land for free on our unique marketplace. LandGate’s marketplace provides landowners with the opportunity to receive viable lease offers from energy developers actively seeking land for projects.


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