New Environment Emerges Under Solar Array
A new, valuable crop is emerging at the Honeysuckle Solar project in New Carlisle, IN, through deliberate management of vegetation. The solar panels, arrayed on acres of former farmland, will provide pollinator habitat and preserve the soil for decades. Virginia Brown, Director of Ecosystem Services at Lightsource bp, provided a favorable October 2023 update on the natural developments:
We are actively managing the vegetation within the site with mowing as well as a recent re-seeding effort. The cover crops and clovers from the spring seeding have established quite well despite the short drought at planting time. With the increased mowing and re-seeding that occurred, I anticipate good growth this fall and ready to begin in the spring. Additional seeding with the pollinator mix will be performed in the spring when the majority of construction activities are completed. This will be drill seeded directly into the existing cover crops.
Lightsource has also been working on a 10 acre high density pollinator habitat located just adjacent to the site. This is in coordination with the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund. This has established very well and is being monitored and maintained by Pizzo and Associates Ltd. A lot of the natives have come up and even a few blooms. The first year is typically not very glamorous due to most natives needing at least 2 years to flower coupled with the challenges associated with converting farmland to prairie. However, so far this planting has done very well and the pressure from annual weeds will be drastically reduced after this year.
In a September 2023 update, Wayne Faust, Senior Production Manager noted the Honeysuckle Solar project is on target for a final completion date of middle of 2024, with most on-site work being completed around early February 2023. The $250 million privately-funded project in New Carlisle, IN, is expected to produce 150 MWac of renewable energy, enough to power 27,000 homes.