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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Granholm: "DOE is committed to ensuring that renewable energy... protects natural environments"

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The U.S. Department of Energy announced the release of approximately $14 million in funding for the study of how solar energy infrastructure interacts with wildlife and ecosystems.

The Deploying Solar with Wildlife and Ecosystems Services Benefits funding program aims to reduce wildlife impacts and optimize environmental benefits by improving solar energy infrastructure, among other renewable energy technologies, according to an Oct. 14 news release. Of the funds, $8.8 million will be shared among six institutions for projects addressing wildlife interactions, and $5.3 million will be shared among three institutions for projects addressing ecosystem services.

“DOE is committed to ensuring that renewable energy deployment protects natural environments,” DOE Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm said in the release. “This first-ever DOE investment in tools to better understand how solar energy infrastructure interacts with native wildlife and the environment will help increase adoption of ecosystem-friendly clean energy deployment.”

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said we need to get serious about solar power and other renewable energy sources "if we hope to have an inhabitable planet for our kids and grandkids," the release reported.

"As we take steps to combat the climate crisis, we must conduct more research to ensure that we can preserve and protect our ecosystems and wildlife as we transition to renewable energy,” Durbin said in the release. “I’m encouraged by DOE’s trust in Illinois’ world-class research facility – Argonne National Laboratory – and congratulate the Argonne scientists selected to lead this research.”

"As we build out the clean energy infrastructure that will power our carbon pollution-free future, we need to be mindful about protecting native wildlife and ecosystems from unintended consequences,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., according to the release. “I'm proud to welcome this investment that will help researchers at places like Sandia National Labs and the Wildlands Network in New Mexico study the impacts of utility-scale solar installations and concentrating solar power projects and develop data-backed strategies to protect birds, mammals, and healthy ecosystems."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., noted how happy she is that UMass Amherst received more than $1 million to maximize on the environmental benefits of solar energy, according to the release. She noted this "critical investment in research" will help transition into a clean energy future while protecting wildlife.

“As we build our clean energy future, green technologies will need to coexist with wildlife and help our environment to thrive,” U.S. Senator Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in the release. “I am excited to see this funding support important research at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst — because we’re not just the Bay State, we’re the Brain State."

Markey added UMass Amherst can use the federal dollars to "contribute to the growing body of research that underpins our clean energy economy," the release reported. He noted this will expand the "understanding of the relationship between birds and insects and renewable energy so that both our ecosystems and our economy can flourish."

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