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Planning for Sustainable Energy Production: A Nature-Based Approach to Large-Scale Solar
January 20 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Ecosystem services and… solar energy? It’s not exactly chocolate and peanut butter. This webinar will present the ground-breaking results of the PV-SMaRT project and the “community co-benefits” approach to solar development. This U.S. DOE funded project developed new tools for planners to assess water quality risks and opportunities associated with solar energy. The webinar will also introduce a new project, launching in 2023, on nature-based solutions for solar development that can provide communities with more tools for ensuring local benefits from large-scale solar development.
Large-scale solar is a rapidly growing land use that is critically important to solving the climate crisis, but also poses unique risks and opportunities to local ecosystem functions, including water quality, soil health, habitat, and cultural/visual functions. Indeed, some solar projects have resulted in spectacular water quality failures or ecosystem damage. But the opportunity for creating “co-benefits” in local ecosystems is also remarkable. Planning professionals strive to protect community natural systems in the development process. If we restore watershed functions, create new habitat and build soil health… is it a solar farm, or is it green infrastructure?
1. Understanding the ecosystem services opportunities in large-scale solar development, if sited and designed to capture community and land-use co-benefits
2. Learning to apply best practice green infrastructure tools, including a new solar runoff calculator, to create win-win opportunities in solar development.
3. Looking beyond regulatory compliance and toward a “green infrastructure” approach to development and water quality design and regulation