Last year, Clif unveiled a two-megawatt, five-acre solar farm with pollinator-friendly habitat at its bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho. Credit: Jared Lauritsen Between a colorful array of wildflowers and the harmonious buzz of bees and butterflies circling overhead, the aesthetics alone of so called pollinator-friendly solar farms may intrigue developers—making for easy marketing. But proponents say the incentives for incorporating native grasses and wildflowers throughout a solar plant extend far beyond flashy advertising. Research published by Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment has found that pollinator-friendly solar can boost crop yields, increase the recharging of groundwater, reduce soil erosion and provide long-term cost savings in operations and maintenance. The research also found that by creating a cooler microclimate, perennial vegetation can increase the efficiency of solar panels, upping their energy output. "I saw this as a potential way to smooth the path forward for increased solar development," said Katie Siegner, an associate with the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Electricity practice who co-authored the Yale report , referring to the advantages the authors described. Siegner said she hoped the findings could help debunk fears of solar projects supplanting agricultural land , by showing one way that they could help support […]

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