Clean energy is not just about reducing carbon emissions; it encompasses a broader vision that includes promoting biodiversity and ecosystem health. At MEO, we are dedicated to maximizing the positive impact of our solar sites, and that’s why we made the decision to incorporate pollinator-friendly plant species at our community solar parks in East Lansing and Marquette. The native, drought-tolerant vegetation planted at these sites enhances soil and water quality and provides essential habitats for bees and other pollinators, contributing to conservation efforts for these vital species.
As part of our continued commitment to realizing the wider benefits of renewable energy, we are delighted to collaborate with PhD student Sharron Miller from Michigan State University and participate in her work exploring the interaction between human land alterations and bumble bee populations. Sharron and her colleagues sampled 30 sites across southern Michigan in 2022, encompassing natural, agricultural, and urban habitats. MEO’s Burcham Solar Park in East Lansing was one of the sites in the urban category.
Early findings from Sharron’s work, though tentative, are encouraging. Bumble bee abundance was found to be relatively high at Burcham Park when compared with the natural and agricultural habitats sampled in the same area. This included a less common species not found at the other sites, indicating that the nesting and floral resources provided by the pollinator-friendly planting at Burcham may be particularly important for this species.
These initial results provide support for the wider environmental benefits that can be achieved through clean energy and reinforce the effectiveness of a more sustainable approach to electricity generation. Sharron and her colleagues will return to Burcham Solar Park in 2023 to continue their work, through which we hope to gain valuable insights that will help us further enhance our conservation efforts.
If you’d like to learn more about Sharron’s research, you can visit her website at www.sharronzmiller.com.