There’s more to a brand-new 293-megawatt solar farm near Pueblo, Colorado. The plant not only produces clean energy but also acts as a carbon sink and a project to preserve and restore the habitat of nearby prairie lands.
The Lightsource bp (a subsidiary of BP) and Xcel Energy-led Sun Mountain Solar project recently began operating as a solar farm for profit. The farm has a 293-megawatt capacity for solar energy output, which can supply power to around 53,900 houses annually.
Lightsource bp claims that the project also prevents about 406,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the same as removing 87,500 gas-powered cars from the road.
The Sun Mountain Solar installations are owned and run by Lightsource bp, and Xcel Energy and Lightsource bp have a long-term power purchase agreement. Solar energy is supplied by Lightsource bp to Xcel Energy, which subsequently distributes it to clients in eight different states. The project helps Xcel Energy achieve its target of supplying 80% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Along with the 300 megawatts Bighorn Solar project, another Lightsource bp project in the area called Sun Mountain Solar also acts as a location for prairie restoration.
According to Clean Technica, the two locations together in Colorado preserve around 3,000 acres of shortgrass prairie.
Lightsource bp shared in a statement that before construction started, it and its partners created a site-specific seed mixture that was appropriate for the area’s soil, environment, and climate.
Western wheatgrass, buffalograss, and little bluestem are among the essential short grasses in the mixture. There is also a little amount of purple prairie clover, which serves as nectar for pollinating insects.
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The business claimed that while building the solar farms, it made an effort to disturb the ground layer as little as possible. Afterward, it sowed native seed mixtures on the damaged ground. The project aims to protect the prairie against exotic species while supplying a habitat for native wildlife, such as bees and prairie songbirds.
According to Lightsource BP, the restored prairies serve as carbon sinks, removing and storing the equivalent of 36,000 tonnes of CO2 throughout the first 25 years of the project’s 40-year lifespan in the on-site prairie habitat.
On the project sites, soil samples have been collected; the presence of carbon will be determined by comparing subsequent samples to the original soil. Over the course of the projects, the business forecasts a 17% increase in soil carbon.
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While Colorado’s clean energy transition goals of reducing emissions in half by 2030 are supported by the Lightsource BP-led solar farms, the parent firm, BP, is making news for stepping down on its own climate commitments.
Following record yearly earnings in 2022, BP now has plans to enhance oil and gas output by 2030, according to The Guardian.
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According to Kate Blagojevic, head of climate justice for Greenpeace UK, BP is yet another fossil fuel company that is extracting value from the enormous misery brought on by the energy and climate crisis.
What’s more, pressure from investors and governments to increase the amount of dirty money they can make from oil and gas appears to have seriously weakened their green goals. Exactly for this reason, we require government action to alter the laws.