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Title: Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States

Abstract

Of the many roles insects serve for ecosystem function, pollination is possibly the most important service directly linked to human well-being. However, land use changes have contributed to the decline of pollinators and their habitats. In agricultural landscapes that also support renewable energy developments such as utility-scale solar energy [USSE] facilities, opportunities may exist to conserve insect pollinators and locally restore their ecosystem services through the implementation of vegetation management approaches that aim to provide and maintain pollinator habitat at USSE facilities. As a first step toward understanding the potential agricultural benefits of solar-pollinator habitat, we identified areas of overlap between USSE facilities and surrounding pollinator-dependent crop types in the United States (U.S.). Using spatial data on solar energy developments and crop types across the U.S., and assuming a pollinator foraging distance of 1.5 km, we identified over 3,500 km2 of agricultural land near existing and planned USSE facilities that may benefit from increased pollination services through the creation of pollinator habitat at the USSE facilities. The following five pollinator-dependent crop types accounted for over 90% of the agriculture near USSE facilities, and these could benefit most from the creation of pollinator habitat at existing and planned USSE facilities: soybeans,more » alfalfa, cotton, almonds, and citrus. We discuss how our results may be used to understand potential agro-economic implications of solar-pollinator habitat. Our results show that ecosystem service restoration through the creation of pollinator habitat could improve the sustainability of large-scale renewable energy developments in agricultural landscapes.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [2]
  1. Environmental Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Illinois 60439, United States
  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado 80401, United States
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
OSTI Identifier:
1457671
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-6A20-71828
Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
DOE Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Science and Technology; Journal Volume: 52; Journal Issue: 13
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; pollination; land use; solar energy; utility scale

Citation Formats

Walston, Leroy J., Mishra, Shruti K., Hartmann, Heidi M., Hlohowskyj, Ihor, McCall, James, and Macknick, Jordan. Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b00020.
Walston, Leroy J., Mishra, Shruti K., Hartmann, Heidi M., Hlohowskyj, Ihor, McCall, James, & Macknick, Jordan. Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States. United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b00020.
Walston, Leroy J., Mishra, Shruti K., Hartmann, Heidi M., Hlohowskyj, Ihor, McCall, James, and Macknick, Jordan. Mon . "Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States". United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b00020.
@article{osti_1457671,
title = {Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States},
author = {Walston, Leroy J. and Mishra, Shruti K. and Hartmann, Heidi M. and Hlohowskyj, Ihor and McCall, James and Macknick, Jordan},
abstractNote = {Of the many roles insects serve for ecosystem function, pollination is possibly the most important service directly linked to human well-being. However, land use changes have contributed to the decline of pollinators and their habitats. In agricultural landscapes that also support renewable energy developments such as utility-scale solar energy [USSE] facilities, opportunities may exist to conserve insect pollinators and locally restore their ecosystem services through the implementation of vegetation management approaches that aim to provide and maintain pollinator habitat at USSE facilities. As a first step toward understanding the potential agricultural benefits of solar-pollinator habitat, we identified areas of overlap between USSE facilities and surrounding pollinator-dependent crop types in the United States (U.S.). Using spatial data on solar energy developments and crop types across the U.S., and assuming a pollinator foraging distance of 1.5 km, we identified over 3,500 km2 of agricultural land near existing and planned USSE facilities that may benefit from increased pollination services through the creation of pollinator habitat at the USSE facilities. The following five pollinator-dependent crop types accounted for over 90% of the agriculture near USSE facilities, and these could benefit most from the creation of pollinator habitat at existing and planned USSE facilities: soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, almonds, and citrus. We discuss how our results may be used to understand potential agro-economic implications of solar-pollinator habitat. Our results show that ecosystem service restoration through the creation of pollinator habitat could improve the sustainability of large-scale renewable energy developments in agricultural landscapes.},
doi = {10.1021/acs.est.8b00020},
journal = {Environmental Science and Technology},
number = 13,
volume = 52,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon May 28 00:00:00 EDT 2018},
month = {Mon May 28 00:00:00 EDT 2018}
}