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Texas Native Seeds receives grant for habitat restoration research

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KINGSVILLE — Texas Native Seeds (TNS)a research program of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute (CKWRI) at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, recently received a grant that will fund research to identify planting methods and native seeds sources that could help lower solar operating costs, improve biodiversity including pollinator habitat, improve erosion control and determine if lower ambient temperatures below panels improves project output.


The research will look at best management practices for establishing native grasslands at the Sparta Solar Center, a 250 megawatt solar facility that is part of the 518 megawatt Helena Energy Center wind and solar hybrid project in Bee County, Texas. The Helena Energy Center expands Ørsted's onshore portfolio to South Texas.


The hybrid nature of the project allows Ørsted, a Danish multinational power company, to maximize the use of the excellent location, in a highly liquid market, on a primary transmission import path into the San Antonio load center and in an area characterized by strong coastal winds and sunshine.


Solar energy is a quickly growing land use throughout Texas. Minimizing negative impacts to wildlife habitat and native plant communities through science-based grassland restoration following construction could have considerable benefit for landowners, energy project operators, and wildlife.


Texas Native Seeds’ research will identify which native seed sources are best adapted to use in solar energy production, which has strict vegetation management requirements to operate and maintain a safe and reliable facility. Successful restoration of native grasses will help reduce erosion through the establishment of ground stabilizing vegetation, preserve precious topsoil, reduce dust and increase water filtration.

Identifying commercially produced, locally adapted native species that can meet the requirements of the solar industry would reduce the use of non-native grasses commonly used in South Texas for revegetation. Major concerns with the use of non-native grasses include loss of biodiversity and invasion to adjacent areas. Restoration of native species has the potential to increase useable habitat for a number of wildlife and pollinator species in solar farms.  


Results from this initial project will give valuable insight into the use of native grassland species in solar energy production. TNS will use results from this project to provide future recommendations to other solar farm developers in South Texas and across the state interested in using native grassland species as part of their operations.



About Texas Native Seeds Program

The mission of TNS is to develop and promote native plants for restoration and reclamation of habitats on private and public lands, focusing on the development of locally adapted native plant seed sources for use in restoration projects. TNS began in 2001 as the South Texas Natives Project at the urging of private landowners concerned with increases in highways and pipeline construction, greater oil and gas activity, and because of enhanced awareness of the role of native plants as vital components of wildlife habitat in South Texas. Since that time, the initiative has grown to include six regional projects serving the entire state. TNS is committed to providing economically viable sources of native seeds and effective restoration methodology to both the private and public sector to enable restoration of native plant communities in Texas.


About Ørsted

Ørsted develops, constructs, and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, and bioenergy plants, and provides energy products to its customers. Ørsted ranks as the world’s most sustainable energy company in Corporate Knights' 2021 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world and is recognized on the CDP Climate Change A List as a global leader on climate action. Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs 6,179 people. Ørsted's shares are listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen (Orsted). In 2020, the group's revenue was DKK 52.6 billion (USD 8.1 billion). Visit or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Category: Ag/Env & Wildlife Sci , General Univ

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