Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
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Argonne demonstrates benefits of restoring native vegetation at solar facilities

July 6, 2021

Trying to find some common ground between biodiversity, food production and renewable energy, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are helping facilitate the development of agrivoltaic systems – the restoration of native plants on large solar facilities.

The results are encouraging.

Over the past few decades, government agencies, research facilities and private landowners have been working to restore native plant habitat, where practical, in an effort to positively impact ecosystem services – the benefits we get from different parts of the natural environment. Advantages include bolstering soil fertility, water retention and carbon storage, and attracting wildlife that play an important role in pollinating vital plants and crops.

A recent collaboration between Argonne, the University of Minnesota and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory assessed how these ecosystem services could be affected by reinstating regional native vegetation at solar facility sites throughout the Midwest.

Read the full article by John Spirrizzi.

Agricultural sites are suited to solar development because they’re relatively flat and unencumbered by trees and urban development. The cohabitation of the sites with native vegetation provides benefits to pollinator insects, like bees, and maintains the land for future agricultural uses.
Agricultural sites are suited to solar development because they’re relatively flat and unencumbered by trees and urban development. The cohabitation of the sites with native vegetation provides benefits to pollinator insects, like bees, and maintains the land for future agricultural uses. [Source: L. Walston, Argonne National Laboratory]
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portrait of Leroy Walston
portrait of Heidi Hartmann