What is Regenerative Energy™?
Regenerative Energy™ is an outcome-driven, verified, certified product that combines clean electricity generation with carbon sequestration, ecosystem restoration, and rural revitalization. Regenerative Energy™ projects are built and operated in alignment with natural systems and approach solar farming holistically. A transformative new standard of excellence for the solar industry, Regenerative Energy™ aims to improve the way the solar industry manages land by normalizing regenerative agriculture practices on solar farm sites.
To deliver Regenerative Energy™, Silicon Ranch partners with renowned regenerative ranchers, who are working with Silicon Ranch to train local farmers and deploy holistic farming practices on solar farms across the country. Under these practices, adaptively-managed grazing animals, diverse native plants, pollinator habitat, and wildlife work together to revitalize degraded soils, enhance biodiversity and make ecosystems more resilient, improve watersheds, sequester carbon in the soil and above-ground biomass, and strengthen rural economies.
Regenerative Energy™ is verified by independent, trusted third-party entities and certified. Silicon Ranch has partnered with non-profit organization Restore the Earth Foundation to develop science- and research-based, globally compliant standards to measure and verify the relationship between regenerative agriculture practices on solar farms and the corresponding environmental, social, and economic outcomes. To ensure the highest level of credibility, the Regenerative Energy™ third-party verification methodology and certification protocol are currently under development and review.
Why Regenerative Energy™?
We offer Regenerative Energy because it’s the right thing for the world: clean electricity generation on land managed using holistic methods that help mitigate climate change by increasing carbon sequestration, keep solar land in agricultural production, and build rural resilience, positively impacting millions of acres of land and ecosystems over time.
HELPS MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE
Regenerative Energy™ helps mitigate climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it underground in soil. Recent research by the Rodale Institute, a pioneering agricultural research and farmer training organization, concludes that more than 100 percent of current annual global carbon dioxide emissions could be sequestered with a switch to regenerative farming practices that are widely available and inexpensive to implement.
Keeps Land in Agricultural Production and Maximizes Soil Health and Carbon Storage
Regenerative Energy™ keeps solar land in agricultural production through partnerships with farmers and ranchers who implement regenerative agriculture practices.
With the implementation of Regenerative Energy™, Silicon Ranch and its regenerative farming partners shift agricultural use on the land from conventional row crop farming, which degrades soil and releases carbon into the atmosphere, to perennial forage cultivation and managed livestock grazing, which together maximize soil health and the amount of carbon dioxide that is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil. Regenerative Energy™ results in a multi-functional solar land base that produces climate-beneficial electricity and perennial forage and livestock, thereby addressing the global need for both clean energy and meeting the food demands of the future.
Builds Rural Resilience and Regenerative Agriculture Adoption
Regenerative Energy™ increases rural resilience – new jobs, empowered local participation that honors community and place, and reciprocal, mutually beneficial knowledge transfers collectively lead to stronger communities. Renowned regenerative farmers train local farmers in regenerative agriculture principles and practices, thereby increasing the pace and scale of adoption of regenerative agriculture practices that are critical to the health of our planet while building rural economic resilience. Local farmers ensure that the implemented practices align with local conditions, which translates to the most robust outcomes.
Offers Broad Spectrum of Quantifiable Beneficial Outcomes
Outcomes will vary by project and local conditions and will be verified by independent third parties and certified. The spectrum of beneficial results includes, among others, the following outcomes:
- Sequestered carbon, biologically active soil, and improved soil formation and stabilization
- Improved air and water quality and increased water quantity
- Increased biodiversity and enhanced overall ecosystem function
- Established pollinator habitat and endangered species habitat
- Improved animal and human health through increased availability of micro-nutrients and better dietary omega balances
- Direct and indirect local job creation, job training, empowered community participation, distributed economic impacts, economic resiliency, and reciprocal knowledge transfers
- Generational equity, community resiliency, and volunteer opportunities
Silicon Ranch is working with leaders in soil carbon capture to adhere to the most up-to-date measurement, quantification, and verification methodologies, aligned with those required by established carbon offset registration registries, including VERRA-Verified Carbon Standard and Climate Action Reserve.
The graphic below illustrates the flow of many of Regenerative Energy™’s components and benefits:
How Does Regenerative Energy™ Remove and Store Carbon?
Regenerative Energy™ leverages animal impact and the power of photosynthesis in plants to maximize removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its storage in the soils on solar land.
Regenerative Energy™ restores functioning grassland ecosystems using adaptive managed grazing of livestock, which can include sheep, cattle, and poultry. As the livestock graze, they trample manure, urine, and old plant matter into the earth. The plant matter decomposes, and together with the manure and urine, it fertilizes and rejuvenates the soil. By controlling the timing, intensity, and frequency of grazing events to mimic the natural relationship between native grasslands and large herds of grazing animals, managed grazing improves soil health and increases the cycling of nutrients, carbon, water and energy.
Photosynthesis and Carbon Removal
Adaptive managed grazing stimulates and improves growth of perennial grasses with extensive root systems. Through photosynthesis, these grasses and other plants found in the grassland remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, convert it to sugars, and store it in plant leaves, stems, and root systems.
Carbon Storage and Retention
After grazing, some of the below-ground roots die back, allowing new leaves aboveground to grow and continue photosynthesizing. These roots decompose deep in the soil, where some of their carbon content is stored long-term. While the amount of carbon stored in the soil fluctuates daily, seasonally, and annually, research shows that proper grassland management through managed grazing can increase long-term carbon storage and retention in soils.
Other Carbon Storage Mechanisms
Solar farm properties often comprise land that is not developed with solar panels in addition to the land on which the solar arrays are built. Regenerative Energy™ projects can incorporate reforestation, restored grassland, and wetland conservation projects on undeveloped solar land that are managed with regenerative agriculture practices that maximize carbon storage by design.
Is Regenerative Energy™ Available Now?
In 2018, Silicon Ranch began implementing regenerative agriculture practices on operating projects in Colorado. We expanded implementation of those practices to projects in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi in 2019 and will transition the balance of our portfolio over time. We are integrating Regenerative Energy™ standards into designs for projects in our construction pipeline.
Silicon Ranch’s first completed new-build projects designed with the new standards will be located in southwest Georgia, where we are partnering with one of the nation’s leading regenerative ranchers, Will Harris of White Oak Pastures, to deploy the standards across more than 3,700 acres.
Harris verified a nine-fold increase in soil organic matter from adaptive managed grazing on his 3,000 acre farm. Regenerative Energy™ can result in similar outcomes on the solar land base.
To ensure the healthiest planet possible for our children today and for future generations, every organization and person needs to take action.
We invite you to partner with us in this holistic, inclusive, outcomes-based endeavor.