Connexus solar with prairie benefitting birds

For more than five years, Connexus Energy has worked closely with expert and internationally influential scientists studying solar facility best practices for maximizing benefits to communities, agriculture, and ecosystems. Argonne National Laboratory installed acoustic monitors (microphones) at our Ramsey Renewable Station to monitor the frequency of bird visits at one of our solar plus battery storage projects. In just one year, Argonne detected 47,000 separate instances of bird calls and songs from 23 different species at the site. Millions of low-growing native and pollinator-friendly plant stems make up the ground cover for the project.

Hear the birds singing at Connexus' solar array

Visiting birds included indigo bunting, eastern bluebird, and sandhill crane. See the full list and hear sample acoustic recordings below.

*Image link source: eBird

Argonne scientists are also using the site to research how agrivoltaic systems — where solar arrays are paired with native plantings and pollinator habitat — can positively impact the surrounding ecosystem. Their scientists are calculating how these solar facilities can benefit nearby agriculture, improve soil health, increase carbon storage potential, and control runoff.

In August, a Minnesota Public Radio story featured Connexus’ research collaboration with Argonne. Last fall, Connexus CEO Greg Ridderbusch spoke with Upstream Initiative about the cooperative’s values and ethic for land stewardship.

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Rob Davis