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WildSNaP: Wildlife in Solar through Native Planting


Solar Development and Wildlife

The WildSNaP project seeks to fill gaps in our understanding of the potential value of solar arrays as wildlife habitat and how that value is influenced by site and landscape characteristics and site management strategies, especially establishment of native grassland vegetation within solar arrays. Our study will provide information critical to balancing renewable energy production with wildlife conservation

Did you know...?
Ground mounted PV solar development is expanding to meet our energy needs

  • Solar Growth - Renewable energy generation is expected to grow by 26% in 2024, 2/3 of which is solar

  • Cost/Benefit - In many regions, PV solar power has become the cheapest source of electricity. In turn, the solar industry is expected to provide 500,000 - 1.5 million US jobs by 2030

  • The Road To Net Zero - The Inflation Reduction Act has set ambitious goals of 50-52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and net-zero emissions by 2050. Solar  power is expected to account for >40% of this growth.

  • Land - To reach these goals, it is estimated that over 10 million acres (0.5 % of US landcover) will need to be converted to PV solar


Did You know...?
Arkansas is seeing rapid expansion of solar development

  • Why Arkansas? - Arkansas has abundant sunshine and extensive  land suitable for solar development, especially in agricultural sections of the Mississippi Delta

  • Solar Generation - Arkansas currently has 895 MW of solar installed, with a market valued at 1.3 billion dollars

  • Growth - Solar generation is expected to grow to over 3,000 MW in the next five years, with most growth due to large-scale facilities in the Mississippi Delta region

  • Land - Utility-scale PV solar often requires ~5 acres per MW, meaning that as much 10,000 acres of solar development is likely to occur in the state in the next 5 years

Major solar facilities in Arkansas. Map and information from SEIA

Did you know...?
Our understanding of the value of solar facilities as wildlife habitat is limited

  • Wildlife and Solar - Solar arrays, especially those managed for native vegetation, have the potential to provide valuable habitat for grassland species

  • Limitations - Most research on wildlife communities in solar arrays focus on a few specific wildlife taxa or have limited site-level replication, making it difficult to disentangle site, management, and landscape factors influencing wildlife communities

  • Where WildSNaP fits in - The WildSNaP project seeks to address these knowledge gaps through multitaxa wildlife sampling across a large number of solar sites, as well as comparison to habitats that would typically be converted to solar in Arkansas and surrounding regions

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at
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