It’s estimated that solar power will grow up to five-fold in the next decade. Solar developers and others working to advance renewable energy recognize that along with successful commercialization, sustainable development requires investment into understanding and minimizing risk from the interactions between solar energy facilities, wildlife, and natural resources.
The biennial Solar Symposium convenes stakeholders from academia, industry, the conservation sector, and public agencies to review the state of the science and identify research gaps and priority questions. The Symposium identifies key concepts around balancing conservation and a rapidly growing solar market, and highlight what we know and emerging topics/questions related to:
- Evaluating and Mitigating Solar-Wildlife Interactions including Wildlife Habitat
- Land Management and Wildlife Compatibility
- Water Resource Management
- Solar Lifecycle and Natural Resource Considerations
This meeting is organized and presented by REWI in consultation with a Planning Committee comprising representatives from the solar industry, environmental and conservation non-governmental organizations, state and federal agencies, and subject matter experts. To learn more about the inaugural Symposium, held in 2021, see the Proceedings.
The 2023 Symposium will be a hybrid event, with registrants able to attend in-person or virtually. All meeting sessions will be live broadcast for virtual attendees, and on-demand presentations and posters will be available to view on the online meeting platform.
As of September 26, 2023 (Subject to Change)
The theme of the 2nd Solar Power and Wildlife/Natural Resources Symposium is The Future Is Bright for Solar Energy and Wildlife
Tuesday, November 14: Solar 101 Workshop
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM ET
This workshop will cover topics related to several facets of the solar industry. The workshop speakers will include professionals from the solar industry, federal and state agencies, and the conservation-science community, who will provide their perspectives on large-scale solar build-out in the United States. The workshop will feature three sessions.
- The Solar Power in the United States session will highlight current and future trends of photovoltaic (PV) solar development, the role and need for transmission capacity, and the impact of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act.
- The Solar Site Selection and Development Process session will focus on factors to consider in identifying suitable large-scale solar project sites – access to markets, transmission, site suitability, community interests, and other non-wildlife challenges, constraints, questions, and concerns for solar energy siting and development, as well as where consideration of wildlife and habitat fit in.
- The Permitting Process and Regulatory Requirements session will dive deeply into federal, state, county, and local permitting processes and considerations.
Wednesday, November 15: Research Presentations and Discussion
Morning Sessions (9:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET)
Session 1 – The Future Can Be Bright for Solar Energy & Wildlife
- This session will set the stage for the Symposium by providing context and multiple stakeholders’ perspectives on the projected rapid development of solar energy, the changing policy landscape, and addressing wildlife conservation needs.
Session 2 – Building Bridges Among Stakeholders
- This session will feature various stakeholder groups discussing the challenges and opportunities related to solar-wildlife interactions, and the importance of communication among stakeholders to address state and local challenges to permitting and wildlife.
Afternoon Sessions (1:00 PM – 5:00 PM ET)
Session 3 – Crafting Solutions for Habitat Fragmentation and Connectivity Challenges
- This session will feature research on wildlife habitat fragmentation and connectivity challenges associated with solar build-out.
Session 4 – Avian-Solar Interactions: What is the Risk?
- This session will include recent research on avian-solar interactions and our understanding of the risk to avian species associated with PV solar development and operation.
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM ET – Networking & Poster Reception
Thursday, November 16: Research Presentations and Discussion
Morning Sessions (9:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET)
Session 5 – Vegetation Management I. Key Considerations for Restoration and Management
- This session will discuss research emphasizing key drivers, considerations, and lessons learned from vegetation establishment and management at PV solar facilities.
Session 6 – Vegetation Management II. Onsite Ecological Outcomes
- This session will focus on data-driven presentations on the ecological responses (i.e., wildlife, their habitat, and ecosystem) associated with vegetation, restoration practices, and vegetation management.
Afternoon Sessions (1:15 PM – 4:30 PM ET)
- Session 7 – Standardizing Data Collection to Maximize Learning
- This session will feature presentations on standardized methods and data collection on ecological responses (e.g., soils, wildlife, and ecosystem health), and highlight the importance of standardization in maximizing data sharing and learning.
- Session 8 – Applying Technology to Answer Tough Questions
- This session will consider the technologies (e.g., camera trap arrays, passive acoustic recorders, remote sensing and drones, and others) that facilitate rapid and broad-scale data collection of solar-wildlife interactions.
- June 26, 2023: Abstract submission deadline
- September: Abstract submitters notified, registration opens, schedule-at-a-glance available
- October 13: Early bird registration rates end
- October 23: Deadline to book hotel rooms
- November 14-16: Solar Symposium in Norfolk, VA