Renewable energy providers face higher expectations in keeping their projects green. From site clearing to solar panel installation to energy delivery, the environment must be considered every step of the way. Doing so requires a qualified team with experience in sustainable project execution. Every renewable energy project is unique, but there are some common environmental factors to consider.
Soil erosion caused by site work can cause long-term damage to the land, reducing nutrients in the soil and disrupting root systems. Soil compaction—often caused by moving heavy equipment across the land for site clearing and installation—also disrupts plant life because it impacts how deep roots can penetrate. Soil compaction can also lead to further erosion because water can’t penetrate as deeply into compacted soils, possibly causing it to run into nearby waterways.
Solar energy projects can impact wildlife habitats and habits, damaging their health and potentially affecting an entire ecosystem. When endangered species are present, teams must take extra precautions to ensure they are protected and not disturbed. This could include timing the project around mating cycles, avoiding certain areas, and using other preservation tactics.
In addition to minimizing disruption to wildlife, it’s also important to prevent unwelcome guests from coming to the site. When an invasive species—whether it’s a plant, animal, bacteria, or fungus—is transferred on equipment, temporary road matting, or boots, the effects can be devastating for native wildlife.
Runoff from renewable energy project sites can impact local waterways. This could be caused by soil erosion that chokes rivers and streams or pollutants from equipment and materials. These pollutants may also impact water quality.
How to Address Environmental Considerations for Renewable Energy Projects
Predicting and preventing the environmental impacts of renewable energy projects is not only the right thing to do, but also often legally required. Use these tips to stay on the right track.
Working with a site-clearing expert can ensure that you start with a solid plan for a sustainable project. Look for a provider with expertise in utilities and solar or wind projects because they know how to create cost-effective plans and prepare for the unexpected.
The onsite team should have experience with site clearing for solar energy projects to ensure expert execution. Avoid costly mistakes and environmental fines by getting it right the first time with a qualified site-clearing provider.
Sustainable Site-Clearing Practices
Look for a provider that is committed to sustainability. This might include using:
- Electric equipment and vehicles that reduce emissions and pollution.
- Low-impact temporary roads that prevent soil compaction.
- Recyclable and reusable matting.
When you work with a site-clearing company that has nearby storage facilities, you can also ensure the shortest transport distance for moving matting to reduce carbon footprint and freight costs.
If your project requires a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP)—as most renewable energy projects do—you may need to install erosion control measures such as straw bales, fencing, and other methods. You must also monitor site activity and the evolving ecosystem to ensure ongoing compliance.
An SWPPP is a living document that could require adapting your project plans along the way. Regional regulatory requirements may have an impact on project execution and reporting.
Get It Right the First Time with YAK ACCESS
YAK ACCESS has the expertise to ensure your renewable energy project stays green and complies with environmental regulations. With deep experience in the utility industry, we know what to expect and how to plan for the unexpected so you can keep your project on track.
Before you start your next renewable energy project, get your copy of The Project Manager’s Checklist today.