Pine Gate Renewables and The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) North Carolina chapter are collaborating to develop and test new practices to make Pine Gate’s solar sites more wildlife-friendly.
Last year, at two North Carolina solar sites, Pine Gate installed fencing with larger holes at the bottom to allow critters such as rabbits, squirrels and raccoons to pass through. Pine Gate and TNC will monitor the fencing to determine its effectiveness, and cameras were installed for monitoring by TNC last month.
This collaboration between Pine Gate and TNC stemmed from their mutual involvement in the North Carolina Pollinator Conservation Alliance (NCPCA), a larger group of conservation organizations and private entities working to support the health and diversity of pollinators in the state. Pine Gate became involved in the NCPCA through its SolarCulture initiative, which focuses on enhancing environmental stewardship on its solar projects.
“We want to help advance the clean energy economy in a way that has as little impact on wildlife as possible. Fencing around solar sites can present a barrier for wildlife movement. We appreciate Pine Gate’s leadership in implementing and testing innovative solar farm design practices and hope that through our monitoring, we can provide evidence that these practices really do work,” says Liz Kalies, director of science of the North Carolina chapter of TNC. “We think this can serve as a great example for other solar developers who also want to maximize benefits to wildlife.”
The test sites were specifically chosen for wildlife-permeable fencing due to their proximity to sizeable areas of forestlands, where a higher diversity of species and their habitat are located as compared to sites that are surrounded by agricultural land, roads or other development.
“We are pleased to be working with The Nature Conservancy and providing them two of their first solar facilities in North Carolina to conduct wildlife monitoring activities,” says Claudia Weeks, Pine Gate’s site operations manager. “Through Pine Gate’s SolarCulture initiative, we are constantly exploring opportunities to further support the surrounding environment to our sites, and we believe wildlife-permeable fencing will be a valuable tool in this effort.”